Why Michael Bennet might be less known than Cory Gardner in Colorado

AFL-CIO America's Unions

Colorado’s Michael Bennet, a Democrat up for re-election this year, is one of the least-known U.S. senators among voters in their home states.

That’s from a recent Morning Consult poll showing the top least-known members of the Senate, and a Washington Post write-up explaining why voters don’t know who these lawmakers are. All of them, like Bennet, are up for re-election, which will mean TV ads — Bennet himself is already on the air — that will no doubt re-introduce them to voters. 

A media and technology company, Morning Consult interviewed 62,000 registered voters since January to find out how constituents in each state felt about the senators who represent them in Washington. The company created a list of the “top 10,” “bottom 10” and “top 10 unknown.”

Bennet didn’t land in the last category, but you’ll find his name among the top 25 unknowns.

From The Washington Post:

Sen. Michael Bennet is the only Democratic incumbent in danger of losing his seat, in a state, Colorado, where about 100,000 new residents arrive each year. Despite being appointed in 2009 and winning a full six-year term in 2010, Bennet is less well-known than his junior colleague, Sen. Cory Gardner (R), who took office 16 months ago.

Gardner’s name recognition stems from a near-$100 million ad war between Gardner and the Democratic incumbent, Mark Udall, in the 2014 midterm elections, reports Post congressional reporter Paul Kane.

On the other hand, “Bennet’s razor-thin victory six years ago is long forgotten,” Kane writes.

Then there’s this:  

Republican strategists believe that Gardner’s opponent, Mark Udall, made a critical mistake at the outset of the campaign. Udall, after six years as a low-profile senator, kicked off his 2014 campaign with a vicious set of ads against Gardner on abortion issues.

That theme continued throughout the campaign, and Republicans believe it hurt Udall as much or more than Gardner, because too many voters did not know Udall and he lacked a strong enough foundation to go negative against his opponent.

Perhaps cognizant of that, Bennet’s first shot on the airwaves this spring is an amusing ad showing his work with the Food and Drug Administration to ease regulations so Colorado’s growing beer brewery industry could sell spent grains to local farms.

The Post checked in with not Bennet but Gardner about this, who said the current media structure in America creates more opportunities for lawmakers to reach voters directly themselves. Gardner also says voters are more distracted than ever.

“You have far more ways to communicate with constituents, but that means constituents have far more ways to look at other information,” Gardner told the newspaper.

As for Bennet, his campaign spokeswoman Alyssa Roberts tells The Colorado Independent the incumbent is less concerned with grandstanding on cable TV than he is with “rolling up his sleeves and getting things done for Colorado.”

In November, she promised, “Michael will win because he’s taken on Washington dysfunction and continues to work across party lines to accomplish things for communities across the state.”

Bennet currently has TV commercials running for his campaign that have been on the air for about five weeks, which is likely to boost his profile among Colorado voters.

The Post offers another reason some U.S. Senators are unknown to some voters, citing this state from a Pew Research Center study: At least 21 states don’t have a single reporter covering their state’s congressional delegation.

Colorado, however, is not one of them. Despite staff cutbacks in recent years, The Denver Post employs a journalist in D.C. who watchdogs the state’s congressional delegation.  

[Photo credit: AFL-CIO America’s Unions via Creative Commons on Flickr]


  1. everyone knows about Cory Gardner, because he is a koch meat puppet…he ran a deceptive, and low information campaign, and Mark Udall ran a worse campaign…Gardner is a Serial Liar, which makes him a Republican in good standing…

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