Bush: Uniting Republicans, Dividing Colorado.

Colorado is divided.  President Bush has split public opinion about himself into two distinct demographic groups.  While his base is steadfast in supporting him, he has united everyone else in the state against him, according to a Survey USA poll of Colorado adults sponsored by KUSA-TV.

Until Colorado’s primary is complete next month, Republican politicians will try to please that base.  But, because the President has left a legacy of an Colorado electorate so polarized about him in particular, that the inevitable move to the left for the general election may be more difficult for Republicans this year, than in the past, when they could count on a relatively equally divided middle.  This may be particularly true in federal elections, like the hotly contested races in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th CDs, where attitudes about the President would be expected to be most relevant to how people vote.While specific results for subgroups in a survey are never terribly reliable, because small subsample sizes lead to large margins of error, some general trends in Presidential support are notable.

About two-thirds of the adult population in Colorado disapprove’s of the President’s performance.  They are predominantly not regular church attenders, are pro-choice, are either moderate or liberal, are either unaffilliated or Democrats, have at least some college education, and tend to live in the Denver metropolitan area.

On the other hand are about a third of the adults in Colorado approve of the President’s performance.  They predominantly attend church regularly, are pro-life, are Republicans, and see themselves as conservatives.  They are much more likely than the general population to have no college education of any kind.  They are much more likely to live outside the Denver metropolitan area than within it.  In short, those who still approve of the President in Colorado closely fit the stereotypes of the Republican base.

Race is not a strong factor, although whites are somewhat more likely to approve of the President’s performance than non-whites.

What is notable, is that there isn’t much middle ground.  Strong disapproval of the President extends to groups that are ordinarily more conflicted on partisan issues, like unaffiliated voters, moderates and occasional church attenders.  Usually, these groups would split the difference between Democrats and liberals and those who never attend church on one hand, and Republicans, conservatives, and those who regularly attend church on the other.  This year, however, there moderates and the conservatives are starkly divided.

As a result, geographic areas like Colorado Springs, and the part of Colorado outside both the Denver metropolitan area and Colorado Springs, which would in most years have high approval ratings for the President, are now equally divided.

The poor statewide results for Bush lend credibility to Bill Ritter’s strong poll numbers in Colorado’s Governor’s race against Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez who trails him by seven percentage points in the polls.

Similarly, confirming prior survey data from Circuli Associates that shows that even in Denver, Republicans are not happy with Republican Gubinatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, President Bush is also doing poorly in metropolitan Denver.  In better years, one would expect the suburbs to balance the Republican strongholds in the metropolitan area.  But, this year, this isn’t happening.

This suggests that Democrats have a very good chance in the 7th Congressional District, that their prospects in the 4th where Marilyn Musgrave faces Democrat Angie Paccione, and 5th Congressional Districts where the winner of a six way primary faces Democrat Jay Fawcett are perhaps as strong as they have ever been, and that Tom Tancredo’s South suburban Denver 6th Congressional District where he faces Democrat Bill Winter, may likewise be a softer target than in prior years.

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Andrew Oh-Willeke

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