PPP Poll reflects shifting Colorado U.S. Senate race

According to a new Public Policy Polling survey, on the GOP side in the U.S. Senate race in Colorado, one-time frontrunner Jane Norton is dipping fast as Weld County D.A. Ken Buck climbs. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Buck nearly dropped out of the race when Norton entered in September with the backing of GOP heavyweights and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He won the caucus straw poll in March and is sure to win delegate support at the state convention this weekend, despite Sarah Palin’s likely endorsement of Norton— yet another of the candidates Palin is backing over grassroots rivals for 2010, a mainstream group that includes John McCain in Arizona and Carly Fiorina in California.

PPP’s Tom Jensen writes that Norton “may be done in by grassroots conservatives just as Charlie Crist in Florida and Trey Grayson in Kentucky have been and just as Sue Lowden in Nevada and John McCain in Arizona may yet be.”

On the Democratic side, Sen. Michael Bennet, who has never previously run for office and was little-known before being appointed to his seat last year, appears to be pulling away from former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, a popular political figure in the state and a talented lawmaker.

What year is this? Ask any tea partier: It’s anything can happen year!

From the poll:

Norton leads Buck 31-26. When PPP looked at the race in March she had a 34-17 lead. Buck actually has the 34-30 advantage with conservatives but Norton continues to lead overall thanks to a 32-12 edge with moderates.

Buck has seen his favorability improve from 21% to 32%, while Norton’s has dropped
from 41% to 34%…

On the Democratic side Michael Bennet has widened his lead over Andrew Romanoff to 46-31 after being ahead just 40-34 on the previous poll. Bennet is doing well across the ideological spectrum, holding double digit leads with liberals, moderates, and conservatives alike.

“In Colorado the Democratic primary was supposed to be competitive and the GOP one a foregone conclusion,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But it seems like the opposite of that is happening. Bennet has expanded his lead while Buck and Norton are headed for a close one.”

PPP surveyed 442 likely Democratic primary voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4.7%, and 448 likely Republican primary voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4.6%, from May 14th to 16th. Other factors, such as refusal to be interviewed and weighting, may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify.

Full survey result and questions available here as pdf.

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