Although Republicans have made dramatic improvements against Democrats the last six months, both nationally and in Colorado, the 2010 races are likely to be competitive and not a rout.
• National polls show that the decline of the Democratic brand has not been matched by an equal uptick in the Republicans. In previous sweeps by the out party, such as 1994 or 2006, the out party was much more favored than today. While the two parties are near equality, Democrats are still preferred on a number of issue positions. Also, President Obama is better thought of than Bill Clinton or George Bush at the comparable time.
• In Colorado, the entry of John Hickenlooper as the Democratic nominee for governor immediately changed the dynamics of the race. The poll shows he erased Governor Ritter’s polling deficit and the race is within the margin of error. Not only is Hickenlooper better known than Scott McInnis along the metro area and north Front Range – about 65 percent of the state’s population – but he has an easy familiarity with much of the state’s major media outlets and access to many of the same financial contributors McInnis draws from.
• Although Democratic Senate candidate Michael Bennet is in trouble with a strong trend against incumbents (even new appointees) and a possible primary, Jane Norton is not well known by the general electorate and has never performed in the center of the state’s political stage – for example, no major debates. And, both Democrats appear to be able in political give-and-take.
Hence, expect Colorado to line up to its reputation as a battleground.
(See Pew findings and Denver Post article)