Many Colorado Republicans still undecided on governor candidate but back Trump, poll finds

DENVER – Colorado Republicans still overwhelmingly approve of the job President Trump is doing, but feel less enthusiastic about Congress and are still wondering for whom they should vote in the governor’s race this year, according to new polling released Monday.

The poll by Louisville-based Magellan Strategies looked at likely voters in this year’s Colorado Republican primary. A total of 647 people were surveyed via autodial on Feb. 26 and 27, and the types of respondents were weighted to be in line with 2016 turnout demographics.

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The poll gives the first look at the thinning Republican field for governor since former Congressman Tom Tancredo dropped out of the race at the end of January, and it shows that likely voters still aren’t sure about the candidates in front of them.

A full 39 percent of those surveyed said they were undecided about which Republican they’d support in the primary, which is just months away. That general response sits in line with two other surveys done over the past six months, in which voters also said they were generally still undecided about the candidates from both parties.

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton garnered the most support among those who did have a choice, with 26 percent of respondents saying he’d have their vote. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman came in second in the poll, with 13 percent of respondents saying they’d support her. Doug Robinson received 8 percent; Victor Mitchell got 5 percent, and 9 percent of respondents chose “other.”

The poll also shows that at least 23 percent of those surveyed said they had never heard of any of the four candidates.

Twenty-three percent of respondents said they hadn’t heard of Stapleton, while the same percentage said that of Coffman. Both are elected statewide officials.

That appears to play a big factor among the Republican candidates, as Mitchell and Robinson both fared much worse among respondents.

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed said they hadn’t heard of Robinson—the same percentage who said they hadn’t heard of Mitchell.

More-conservative respondents generally were more likely to support Stapleton, while the more moderate a respondent considered themselves, the more likely they were to support Coffman instead, according to the survey.

And though Mitchell did get 11 percent of respondents who said they viewed him favorably, most of that support comes from the 18-34 age group, which backs Mitchell above any other GOP candidate but which also has historically shown up in the smallest numbers to vote.

The poll also shows that immigration has taken over the political conversation with Colorado’s conservatives, as Denver is accused of being a “sanctuary city” and as Tancredo’s leaving the race fills a hole for candidates to stand out with the heaviest immigration focus.

Forty-three percent of those surveyed said that enforcing federal immigration law was the top issue governor's race candidates should be focused on. Roads and transportation (13 percent), state government spending (10 percent) and public education (9 percent) came in far behind immigration as the most-important issues.

But no matter their personal preferences about Colorado’s candidates, the conservatives polled in the survey (90 percent were registered Republicans, while 10 percent were unaffiliated) still overwhelmingly think the president is doing a good job, though they can’t say the same for Congress—a puzzling divide seen in national polls as well, though Congress is historically much less popular than the sitting president.

Overall, 82 percent of those surveyed said they approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 13 percent said they disapproved and 5 percent said they were unsure or had no opinion. Men (84 percent) were more supportive than women (79 percent) of Trump’s job as president, and moderates were much more likely to disapprove of the job he was doing than conservatives—a 35-percentage-point gap.

And though Trump has received credit for some accomplishments in his first year – including tax reform and a judicial overhaul – Congress had to pass those measures and vote those judges onto the bench in the first place, but is not receiving the same amount of credit.

Forty-nine percent of people surveyed in the Magellan poll said they disapproved of the job Republicans in Congress were doing, while just 35 percent said they approved. Sixteen percent said they were unsure.

Even among those who called themselves “very conservative,” more respondents said they disapproved (46 percent) of the job Republicans in Congress were doing than approved (42 percent).

But that number was drastically down from a poll by Magellan done in October, right after Republicans failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, when 78 percent of likely Republican Colorado primary voters said they disapproved of the job congressional Republicans were doing.

The Colorado caucuses take place Tuesday and are the first step toward candidates for governor getting on the primary ballot.

The margin of error for the survey was +/- 3.85% at the 95th confidence interval. Magellan Strategies fielded and paid for the survey, and it was not done in connection with any candidates for governor.

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