No Clear Leader In Colorado’s Races For Senate And Governor

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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On the eve of the election, Colorado’s two major races — for governor and for Senate — are too close to call in a last-minute poll from Quinnipiac University released on Monday.

Both contests are within the margin of error, with Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner leading incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall by a mere 45-43 percent.

That’s a drastic change from just four days ago when the same poll showed Gardner up by a comfortable 7 points, with 46 percent of the vote to Udall’s 39 percent.

Likewise, the race for Colorado governor has swung wildly from a 10-point contest in favor of Republican challenger Bob Beauprez in September to a much more dramatic 2-point spread over Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper. Quinnipiac has the race neck and neck, with Beauprez earning 45 percent of the vote to Hickenlooper’s 43 percent

“Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will have to count on an aggressive final hour ground game and a bump from the undecideds to keep the state’s top job, but it can go either way,” Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the poll, said in a press release.

Regarding the Senate race, he said, “What looked like a GOP lock on a coveted Senate seat in a targeted state, heads down to the wire with no clear leader.”

However, it’s been noted that Quinnipiac’s polling has been more schizophrenic during this election season than other polls, with double-digit lead swings and wild variances in candidates’ favorability ratings from poll to poll.

Yet with voting coming to and end tomorrow, it may have settled in the right place, according to the FiveThirtyEight blog. The site, which deals in the deep math of political statistics, says Democrats in Colorado have a history of doing better than their polls indicate, and that since 1998, polls there have tended to favor Republicans.

Indeed, Quinnipiac is given a rating of B+ by the site, which notes that it tends to favor Republicans by a small percentage. That, combined with Democratic candidates’ ability to outperform their polls, puts Colorado’s top-of-ticket races firmly in the “tossup” category.

“Democrats, indeed, have outperformed their polls in Colorado — by an average of 1.6 percentage points since 1998,” wrote FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver. “That closely matches Republican Cory Gardner’s lead over Democrat Mark Udall in the polls this year. So, if they have the same bias again, the race will be a tossup.”

An average of the six most recent polls — including from Quinnipiac — has Gardner ahead by 2.5 percentage points going into Election Day.

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