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Gardner Edging Out Udall In Latest Senate Forecasts

Greg Campbell
Contributor

Leading political prognosticators — mostly recently including the FiveThirtyEight blog run by polling analyst Nate Silver — are increasingly projecting a Republican win in the Colorado Senate race.

Silver’s blog gives Republican Rep. Cory Gardner a 54 percent chance of beating incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, based on polling analysis and historical and demographic information run through thousands of simulations.

Gardner took a huge leap forward in the forecast; just a month before, the site projected a 60-40 Udall victory.

The forecast also projects a 65 percent chance that Republicans will win a majority in the Senate, compared to only a 35 percent chance that Democrats can maintain their majority.

FiveThirtyEight successfully predicted the outcomes of 34 of 36 Senate races in 2010, but as noted by the conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics, one of those he missed was a Colorado race. Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet beat challenger Ken Buck by one point when Silver predicted it would go the opposite way by one point.

In an article accompanying the data, Silver warns that there is still much uncertainty in the numbers. For one thing, he said, there were few polls in recent weeks from which to add to the calculations. He even highlighted Colorado’s lack of current data, noting that no polls were conducted in the state in August.

The other uncertainty comes from turnout.

“In Iowa, Colorado and Alaska, for example, we have Democrats very narrowly favored on the basis of the raw polling average,” Silver wrote, “but their edge is so narrow that Republicans pull ahead slightly if we adjust the registered-voter polls in these states to a likely-voter basis.”

Indeed, despite the numbers falling in Gardner’s favor, Silver still rates Colorado (along with Alaska, Iowa and North Carolina, the states with the thinnest margins and each with the Republican candidate projected as a by-a-nose finisher) as a “tossup.”

If the numbers say anything with certainty it’s that neither Udall nor Gardner will ease up on the campaigning in the coming weeks. Both candidates have hammered home their issues through tens of millions of dollars worth of advertising, aided by tens of millions more by outside groups.

Udall has focused his attacks on Gardner’s history of support for personhood amendments and his ads have highlighted Gardner’s past votes on reproductive issues and women’s health. He’s also been portrayed as being in the pocket of oil and gas companies and denying the science of climate change.

Gardner, meanwhile, has relentlessly tied Udall to increasingly unpopular President Obama and to out-of-state environmentalists to paint him as being out of touch with regular Coloradans.

Both sides seem to be landing blows, with the GOP pouncing on a 2008 Udall comment in which he said during a debate that he doesn’t support a “government-sponsored solution” to health care.

Gardner’s campaign quickly called that a lie, pointing to Udall’s support of the Affordable Care Act.

“Mark Udall was elected on a lie,” Gardner told the Denver Post. “Mark Udall promised he wouldn’t support a government-sponsored solution and he broke that promise and voted for Obamacare.”

Udall’s campaign replied that health care under the ACA isn’t run by the government, the Post reported.

“They’re grasping at straws,” a Udall spokeswoman told the paper.

Meanwhile, according to Denver’s Fox 31, the Udall campaign is about to release a memo prepared for it by Bruce Brown, the Democratic district attorney in Colorado’s 5th Judicial District, on Brown’s opinion of a 2007 Gardner-sponsored abortion bill. It would have subjected physicians performing abortions — including in cases of rape and incest — to sentences of up to 12 years in prison.

That’s more than the average sentence for rapists themselves, Brown reportedly wrote in the memo.

“How would a judge charged with sentencing a physician rationalize a more severe sentence for the doctor than the victim’s rapist serves?” Fox 31 reported Brown as writing.

Gardner’s campaign called the memo “bogus” and “slanderous” but “stopped short of pushing back against Brown’s interpretation of the 2007 bill,” Fox 31 reported.

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