DENVER – A poll released Wednesday shows Republican Sen. Cory Gardner’s favorability rating nearly neutral among Colorado voters with a dozen Democrats already in the race to try and unseat him in 2020 — but the same can’t be said for President Trump, who has a favorability rating 14 points underwater.
Voters statewide who were surveyed said they are enthusiastic about voting in the election next year and said they generally felt good about the direction that Colorado is headed. Gov. Jared Polis has a favorability rating of +15 six months into his first term.
That’s according to the poll from Keating Research, Onsight Public Affairs and Martin Campaigns, which surveyed 500 active Colorado voters who cast a ballot in either the 2016 or 2018 elections. The poll was conducted June 24-27 involving 67% cellphone interviews and 33% landline interviews, and generally correlated with the demographics of Colorado voters. It has a margin of error of ±4.4%.
The survey shows that despite Gardner and Trump endorsing one another for re-election earlier this year, the senator from Yuma has fared better in the minds of all Coloradans than has the president – particularly when looking at unaffiliated and Democratic voters. But it also shows that Republicans view Trump far more favorably than they view Gardner.
Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said they had a “very unfavorable” opinion of Trump while just 28% said they had a “very favorable” opinion of him. His overall favorability rating is -14 points, with 42% of respondents saying they had a favorable opinion of the president and 56% saying they viewed him unfavorably.
The poll shows Trump polarizes party voters: He has a 90% favorability rating among Republicans who were polled and a 4% favorability among Democrats polled. But among unaffiliated voters – who make up the largest bloc in Colorado and whose votes are highly sought-after – Trump is 23 points underwater, with 37% viewing him favorably and 60% viewing him unfavorably.
Gardner, however, has a +1 favorability rating, with 40% of respondents viewing him favorably and 39% unfavorably, and 22% of respondents saying they weren’t sure or were unfamiliar with him. He also fared far better in the poll than Trump among unaffiliated voters and Democrats but has far less vigorous support among Republican voters than Trump – with 90% viewing the president favorably and 63% viewing Gardner favorably.
He has a 63%-17% favorable-unfavorable rating among Republicans polled, a 25%-55% favorable-unfavorable rating among Democrats polled and a 34%-41% favorable-unfavorable rating among unaffiliated voters.
In addition to Republicans, Gardner will have to win over unaffiliated voters, who swung toward Democrats in 2018 in statewide races, next November in order to defeat whichever of the more than 10 Democrats wins the party’s nomination. Two of those Democrats, Mike Johnston and Dan Baer, reported raising more than $1 million apiece during the fundraising quarter that ended Sunday, and the party and campaign organizers have stepped up messaging against Gardner in recent months.
And voter enthusiasm is high, according to the poll. Ninety-two percent of respondents said they would “definitely vote” in 2020 – with 96% of Democrats, 92% of Republicans and 88% of unaffiliated voters saying that would be the case.
Those polled were positive about the direction in which Colorado is headed, with 55% saying that was the case and 37% saying the state was headed in the wrong direction. Democratic (87%) and unaffiliated voters (55%) were much more optimistic the state is headed in the right direction, with only one-fifth of Republicans polled saying that was the case.
Younger people aged 18-49 also saw the state on a more positive path than those aged 50+ who were polled. Sixty-two percent of people aged 18-49 said the state was headed in the right direction while only 46% of those 50+ said that was the case.
Those polled see Polis favorably, with 50% saying that was the case and 35% saying they view him unfavorably after his first legislative session as governor and with laws he signed recently going into effect.
The partisanship of voters in 2019 also factored into the poll, with Polis seeing a +75% favorability rating among Democrats, a +20% rating among unaffiliated voters and a -54% favorability rating among Republicans.
The Colorado voters who were polled also overwhelmingly said they support abortion amid talks of a proposed ballot measure on late-term abortions. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said abortion should be legal while 28% said it should be illegal.
Ninety percent of Democrats said it should be legal, as did 71% of unaffiliated voters and 40% of Republicans. Seventy-two percent of women and 64% of men said abortion should be legal, according to the poll.
The poll is an early look into what is expected to be an intense 16 months in Colorado’s political realms after Democrats swept statewide offices in the midterms, and with the state showing among the highest turnouts in the nation in both 2016’s general and 2018’s midterm elections.
"Republicans are still looking for the right message and messengers for 2020," said pollster Chris Keating. "Majorities of Democrats and unaffiliated voters continue to believe the state is headed in the right direction, believe abortion should be legal and hold unfavorable views of President Donald Trump."
"2020 is shaping up to be another strong year for Democrats given their own enthusiasm and unaffiliated voters' continued dislike of both President Trump and Senator Gardner," OnSight's Curtis Hubbard said in a statement. "Gardner's January endorsement of Trump hasn't seemed to help with the Republican base -- but hasn't hurt his standing with unaffiliateds or Democrats either."