Coloradans like civil unions, legal pot, Udall

Results of a recent survey (pdf) bolster evidence that Coloradans by a wide majority support same-sex civil unions. The news comes in the wake of a standoff at the statehouse last month in which House Republicans killed a bill that would have established civil unions here. The pollster, Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling, tied the data on civil unions to the fact that the Republican Party in Colorado seems to be steadily losing support.

In a release, PPP Director Tom Jensen reported that 56 percent of Colorado voters supported the civil unions bill and that 38 percent opposed it.

The way the numbers break down, according to Jensen, suggests more than short-term trouble tied to gay-rights for the state GOP. Jensen wrote that 58 percent of unaffiliated voters supported the bill, as did 65 percent of Latinos and 66 percent of young voters.

“Strong Democratic support from young voters, independents and Hispanics is why the GOP has lost five consecutive Presidential/Gubernatorial/Senate races in the state,” he wrote. “The party missed an opportunity here to appear more open minded to those groups it needs to do better with.”

Unaffiliated voters make up roughly a third of voters in the state and routinely decide elections. Latinos comprise the fastest-growing ethnic demographic in Colorado.

“Legislative Republicans killed [the civil unions bill] and in a perhaps related development Democrats lead the generic ballot in the state by a 46/41 margin,” wrote Jensen. “They could pick up a good number of seats this fall with those numbers.”

PPP called 800 Coloradans between June 14 and June 17 and reports a margin of error of +/-3.5 percent.

The poll found that Coloradans have a positive view of Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who enjoys a 42 point approval rating and would easily defeat likely challengers such as former Gov. Bill Owens, Rep. Mike Coffman, former Rep. Tom Tancredo and Attorney General John Suthers.

The PPP pollsters also found that Amendment 64, the state ballot initiative to legalize marijuana the way alcohol is regulated, so far has won a narrow lead with the voting public. Jensen reports 46 percent of likely voters polled supported the initiative and 42 percent opposed it. More than 60 percent of Democrats support the measure as do nearly 50 percent of unaffiliated voters. Only 40 percent of unaffiliated voters oppose legalization. Republicans oppose legalization 62 percent to 27 percent.

PPP has been attacked on the right for oversampling Democrats. Anonymous blogsite Colorado Peak Politics has been bemoaning recent PPP findings that Pres. Obama leads likely GOP rival Mitt Romney in the state and decrying the fact that PPP samples don’t reflect recent state voter registration numbers, which show Republican affiliations outracing those of Democrats and independents.

Jensen told the Colorado Independent he stands by PPP’s methodology, that it measures party identification, not party registration, because it believes measuring party identification produces more accurate results.

“For instance in 2008 our final Colorado poll nailed the outcome (pdf),” Jensen explained, “but the breakdown on [the people surveyed] was 42 percent Democratic and 39 percent Republican, nowhere near the registration numbers in the state. What people are registered as and what they identify as are often not the same thing.

“We showed Michael Bennet ahead in almost all of our 2010 polls, while most pollsters showed Ken Buck ahead, sometimes by wide margins. We were proven right about that race.

“I have a lot of faith in our Colorado polling.”

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