Down Ticket Races Close

Money isn’t everything.  That seems to be the message from the Denver Post’s polls of Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Attorney General races facing voters this fall, the first poll of the races made publicly available in this campaign.

Despite the fact that her campaign is trailing in campaign contributions, a Denver Post/Mason Dixon poll shows Democrat Fern O’Brien, facing incumbent John Suthers, in the race for Colorado Attorney General in the best position of any of the down ticket Democrats. She is trailing Suthers by just 2 percentage points in a 30-28 race.  Support for a Republican incumbent facing re-election in Colorado of only 30% is dismal.  This does not even include the percentage of voters normally considered the Republican base.  The 7% support received by Libertarian Dwight Harding has weakened former El Paso County District Atorney John Suthers, a vacancy appointee of Republican Governor Bill Owens, who took office when Democrat Ken Salazar became a U.S. Senator from Colorado.  Suthers has not yet faced statewide voters.  The poll also shows 35% of voters undecided in the race, the largest undecided proportion of any of the Colorado down ticket statewide races polled.  O’Brien needs just 53% of the undecided vote to win.

O’Brien, a private attorney with a background in corporate practice, has been greatly out fund raised by Suthers, but in a year when the prevailing partisan sentiment is running against Republicans and a third party candidate is acting as a spoiler in the race, that may not matter. 

John Suthers has been instrumental in working with Republican Secretary of State Gigi Dennis in adopting controversial, and at least in some cases, illegal, new election rules designed to thwart Democratic party candidates this fall.

Polls in the Secretary of State and State Treasurer’s races, where campaign contribution balances have been far more equal, but there has been no third party spoiler, have shown only modest spill over effects from the lopsided Governor’s race.

The new poll showed Republican Mike Coffman leading Democrat Ken Gordon by six percentage points, 39-33, in the Secretary of State’s race.  Rick VanWie has dropped his Green Party bid in this race to avoid serving as a spoiler for Ken Gordon, in part, because Ken Gordon supports instant runoff voting, the Green Party’s big issue in the race.

In the State Treasurer’s race, Republican Mark Hillman was leading Democrat Cary Kennedy by a 38-32 margin, also a six percentage point gap.

Gordon and Kennedy both need strong support from undecided voters to win in the General Election.  Ken Gordon needs 61% of the undecided vote to win.  Kennedy needs 60% of the undecided vote to win.

In contrast, consistent with prior polls in the Governor’s race, the poll showed Democrat Bill Ritter leading Republican Bob Beauprez at the top of the ticket by a 50-35 margin.

Currently, in Colorado, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer and Attorney General are all Republicans.  John Suthers in the only incumbent in those offices seeking re-election.

The Denver Post/Mason Dixon telephone poll asked 625 registered voters in the state on from October 3 to October 5 who the favored in various general election races.  The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Hat Tip to Colorado Pols.

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Andrew Oh-Willeke

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