Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner’s entry into the race to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall tightened the margins to almost zero, according to a new Rasmussen poll.
The two candidates are neck and neck, with 42 percent of respondents voting for Udall and 41 percent for Gardner. The margin of error is 4.5 percent.
Five percent of those surveyed preferred some other candidate and 13 percent were undecided.
The race is significantly narrowed from when Udall faced former frontrunner GOP candidate Ken Buck, the Weld County district attorney. The latest poll conducted before Buck moved into the race for Gardner’s seat had Buck trailing Udall 46-42 percent.
Udall has been on the defense since emails revealed that staff members of the Colorado Department of Insurance felt pressured by his office to walk back the number of Coloradans whose health insurance policies had been cancelled under the Affordable Care Act.
He’s also alone among Democratic incumbents in key states who opposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline during a non-binding vote last year. Gardner sits on the House Energy Committee and has criticized Democrats who oppose the pipeline project.
A recent poll by Hickman Analytics, on behalf of Consumer Energy Alliance, showed that 66 percent of Coloradans polled wanted the pipeline built and 52 percent said they would be less likely to support the Democratic incumbent if it’s not.
On Monday, Udall staked out his position on climate change by participating with 28 other Democrats in an all-night session to give speeches on the issue.
Political analyst Eric Sondermann told Denver’s Fox 31 said Udall’s purpose was two-fold — to draw a distinction between him and Gardner and to woo funding from California billionaire and climate change activist Tom Steyer, who has pledged $100 million to make it an issue in the 2014 election.
“I think particularly in mid-March, both sides are spending a lot of time appealing to their base,” Sondermann told Fox 31. “For Udall, this is his voting base: the liberal, green Democratic base that wants action on this issue, and a fundraising base with Tom Steyer.
“This is going to be a record-setting campaign in terms of expenditures, and this is an opportunity for Udall to lock up a lot of that money,” he said.
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