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« Enviro Groups Own CO | Blog Home Page | Strategy Memo: Shift Happens »

M. Udall Up In Dem Poll

Mark Udall has a substantial, but not overwhelming, lead in the race to replace retiring Republican Senator Wayne Allard, a new poll conducted for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee shows, indicating the Democratic congressman's likely November opponent has serious work to do ahead. But the poll does not give Udall an edge that is insurmountable, giving Republicans hope that a once-reliably red state may not be completely out of reach just yet.

The survey, conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang for the DSCC, polled 807 likely voters between 6/15-17 for a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. Udall and former Rep. Bob Schaffer were tested.

General Election Matchup (W/leans)
Udall...................46
Schaffer.............37

Generic Dem.......42
Generic GOPer....36

Republicans don't have to give up the ghost just yet. Schaffer has so far run a low-key campaign without flashy rallies or statewide tours, as Udall has done. And though Udall got a big fundraising head start, Schaffer raised good money in the First Quarter and, while he's at a financial disadvantage, there's a long way to go in the race. Through March, Udall had $4.2 million on hand, while Schaffer had more than $2.1 million in the bank.

Both candidates say their opponents are too extreme for the state. Schaffer, who lost the 2004 Republican primary to beer magnate Pete Coors, paints Udall as a "Boulder liberal" (Reporters joke that one conversation with Schaffer campaign manager Dick Wadhams yields at least five repetitions of the phrase). Udall's team hits Schaffer for being too conservative, especially on energy-related policies, which have so far played a big role in the campaign.

Schaffer has also faced questions about his relationship with Jack Abramoff, which included a fact-finding mission to the Northern Mariana Islands. The fire, which the DSCC has been only too happy to fan, has received significant attention from the Denver Post, though Schaffer maintains he never met or was aware of Abramoff at the time the trip occurred, in 1999.

Both parties will make the seat a top priority in November, and Democrats see it as one of their best chances to pick off another Republican-held seat. The party has fared well in recent years, recapturing the governorship, both legislative chambers, two Congressional seats and a Senate seat since 2004. But Udall, running under 50% in a Democratic poll, should not start measuring the drapes in Allard's office just yet. The race could prove to be closer than many expect.