Polls show Bennet-Buck too close to call

Polls released in the last few days show Colorado’s senate race tightening to the point that some are already predicting a recount.

A poll released Wednesday (pdf) by Colorado Pols, conducted by RBI Strategies and Research, actually shows incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet up by one point over Republican challenger Ken Buck, whose campaign has suffered a series of recent missteps.

Buck, once ahead by more than five points, has slipped as revelations about a rape case he refused to prosecute became public. Shortly after that, he made comments comparing homosexuality to alcoholism, which many found offensive. He followed that with comments denying the basic facts of climate change.

Then video was released showing him disavowing the separation of church and state. While some of these statements may have actually helped with his base, it was probably not the way he would have wanted to end the campaign

The RBI survey of 501 likely voters took place Oct. 24-26.

Thirty-two percent of those polled said they had already voted, Buck led by one point among those voters, but trailed by one point among all those polled.

According to Colorado Pols, which commissioned the poll:

Republican Ken Buck and Democrat Michael Bennet are locked in one of the most competitive US Senate races in the country. Currently, 43% of likely voters in Colorado are supporting or leaning towards supporting Bennet while 42% are supporting or leaning Buck. 3% say they will support the Libertarian, Maclyn Stringer, and 1% say they will support the Green Party candidate Bob Kinsey. Men and women are mirrored in their preferences, with men favoring Buck 45% to 41% while women favor Bennet 44% to 39%.

Both candidates benefit from strong support from their respective parties, with 81% of registered Democrats favoring Bennet and 80% of Republicans favoring Buck. Bennet holds a 41% to 34% advantage among Unaffiliated voters. Voter preferences vary widely by region with Bennet leading in the North Front Range and Denver while trailing in all other regions of the state. Voter preferences are also correlated to age, with voters under 45 favoring Bennet by 5 points and voters over 65 favoring Buck by 7. While Buck holds a 5 point lead among white voters, Bennet leads by double digits among Hispanic voters.

RBI Strategies & Research conducted a telephone survey of 501 Colorado voters who indicated it was likely that they would vote in the 2010 General Election. Interviews were conducted October 24 – October 26, 2010 by Standage Market Research of Denver, Colorado, a market research firm specializing in telephone survey interviewing. Respondents were randomly selected from a list of Colorado voters, purchased from Voter Contact Services, who voted in the 2008 General Election or registered to vote at any time following the 2008 General Election.

The margin of error for a survey of 500 interviews is +/- 4.4% at the 95% confidence level. The margin of error is higher for subsamples within the full sample. Other sources of error not accounted for by the stated statistical margin of error include, but are not limited to, question wording, question order, refusal to be interviewed, and demographic weighting.

RBI Strategies has close ties to the Bennet campaign.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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