Poll: Hickenlooper leads the pack to replace Salazar

Public Policy Polling adds more grist to the mill with a survey of Coloradans’ preferences among the potential candidates to succeed U.S. Senator Ken Salazar who was tapped to become secretary of the Interior by President-elect Barack Obama Wednesday.

While there’s no clear picture Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper appears to be the consensus choice among some key voter constituencies: partisan, age and gender demographics — everything except race/ethnicity.

The pollster’s blog offers a run-down on how the Salazar succession is shaping up:

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper leads the way at 23%. One thing that’s interesting about his support is that he gets the most support among Democratic, Republican, and independent voters at a steady 23-24%. That’s different from, for example, New York where our polling finds that Democrats prefer Caroline Kennedy but other polling shows Republicans prefer Andrew Cuomo. Hickenlooper’s support is steady across party lines.

Hickenlooper is the favorite in the Denver metro area at 26%, followed by Andrew Romanoff at 13%. In the rest of the state John Salazar is the top candidate at 25% with Hickenlooper receiving 19% support.

One thing to note about the results is that while Hickenlooper leads overall, the number of voters saying they would like to see John Salazar or Federico Pena appointed exceeds his level of support. That could be an indication that a plurality of voters would like to see a Hispanic candidate appointed.

That’s certainly the case within the Hispanic community, where 32% say their top choice is Pena with 18% saying it’s Salazar. Romanoff gets 16% with Hispanics and Hickenlooper falls further back at 11%. The divide among Hispanic voters about whether they’d rather see Pena or Salazar appointed falls largely along regional lines. Denver area folks prefer Pena while out state ones want Salazar.

And while they were at it, the pollster asked a few questions about Gov. Bill Ritter’s performance. Forty-nine percent of respondents approve of his job thus far at the capitol which split along hard partisan lines. Seventy-five percent of Democrats and 50 percent of unaffiliated voters give him a positive nod while a scant 21 percent of Republicans like the job that he’s doing.

The crosstabs for the survey can be downloaded at the Public Policy Polling blog.

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