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Two Colorado polls show Polis on inside track in governor's race as Trump again endorses Stapleton

1.1M Colorado ballots returned as of Thursday
Posted: 8:40 PM, Nov 01, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-02 06:45:12Z

DENVER – Democrat Jared Polis is on the inside track to win Colorado’s governor’s race in the 2018 midterm election, according to two more polls of likely voters released Thursday.

The polls from Keating Research and Magellan Strategies show the Boulder congressman with an 8- and 5-point lead, respectively, over Republican Walker Stapleton heading into the final days of voting before the Nov. 6 Election Day.

Both polls are also in line with polling done in recent weeks by Magellan and pollster David Flaherty that showed Polis leading the race, though the results of the Magellan poll released on Thursday show the narrowest gap between the Democrat and Stapleton, the current state treasurer.

Both polls surveyed likely voters in the midterm election. The Keating poll , which was done in consortium with OnSight Public Affairs and Martin Campaigns, comes from surveys of 517 likely voters who were interviewed on cell phones and landlines between Oct. 25 and 30.

The Magellan poll surveyed 500 likely voters on Oct. 29 and 30. Both polls have margins of error close to ±4.3 percent and are weighted closely to prior turnouts in Colorado’s midterm elections.

Polis leads Stapleton 45 to 40 percent in the Magellan poll, with Libertarian candidate Scott Helker getting 3 percent and Unity Party candidate Bill Hammons getting 1 percent. Eleven percent of those surveyed were still undecided about a week before Election Day.

Polis had a seven-point lead in a similar October survey  and a late-September survey done by the same firm. Neither candidate’s image ratings changed much over that three-week period, according to the survey, but voter enthusiasm did. In October, just 47 percent of Republicans said they had maximum interest in the election, while 74 percent did in the most recent poll.

But the recent survey showed Polis still overwhelmingly taking home the vote among women, younger voters and the important suburban vote. The survey was weighted to show a +2 percent Republican turnout, though voters from the Republican and Democratic parties so far have returned almost identical numbers of ballots.  There were about 1.1 million Coloradans who had voted as of Thursday morning.

Flaherty, who conducted the poll, said he wanted to keep the recent poll in line with the one he conducted earlier in October, and noted that as more ballots are returned, party numbers will continue to fluctuate.

But he said that there is a “real chance” that Democrats and unaffiliated voters will turn out in higher levels than the 2014 midterms, when Republicans won several offices in tight races with Democrats.

“Taking that survey data into account and a real chance that Democrat and unaffiliated turnout will exceed 2014 levels, it is safe to say that Jared Polis has the inside track of becoming the next Governor of Colorado. We shall see,” Flaherty said.

Polis leads Stapleton 50-42 percent in the Keating poll, with Libertarian candidate Scott Helker getting 4 percent and Unity Party candidate Bill Hammons getting 1 percent. Four percent of those surveyed were undecided.

But the Keating poll shows unaffiliated voters – the largest bloc in Colorado – choosing Polis over Stapleton by a 21-point margin (53 to 32 percent) and Polis with a 61-33 percent lead over Stapleton in Jefferson and Arapahoe counties—suburban Denver counties which are both often seen as bellwethers in Colorado’s elections.

Polis also leads by 20 points among women voters and, perhaps unsurprisingly per prior polling, by 18 points among likely voters aged 18-49.

Pollster Chris Keating said the numbers should be good news for Polis and his campaign.

"In 23 years of polling in Colorado, a statewide candidate with this type of consistent 7- to 8-point lead in the polls has never lost the election," Keating said. "Our statistical model gives Jared Polis a 98% chance of winning."

The Keating poll also found President Donald Trump’s favorability is underwater in Colorado, which voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton by 5 percentage points in 2016. Fifty-nine percent of those polled said they had an unfavorable view of Trump, compared to 39 percent with a favorable view.

That 20-point spread comes as Trump endorsed Stapleton Thursday via tweet for a second time in recent weeks, though he is not scheduled to come to Colorado for any last-minute campaigning.

Trump said Stapleton was “strong, smart, and has been successful at everything he has ever done.” He also took a virtual swipe at Polis, calling the Democrat “weak on crime and weak on borders.” Trump said Polis “could never do the job.”

For more Election 2018 coverage, click here.