Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Colorado Democratic Politicians in Summer Slump

Like the hot, slow days of summer, Colorado’s top politicians are suffering from the heat. They are failing to break the 50 percent barrier in approval.

President Barack Obama is the state’s most popular Democrat, a reverse from former President G.W. Bush’s low level of approval compared to statewide Republicans in 2006 to 2008. But, even Obama has been below 50 percent for four months. His national polling numbers, which were in the 60 percent range most of the spring, have caught up to Colorado’s and are now at the low 50 percent level.

In the latest published auto-dial poll, Governor Bill Ritter and his choice for U.S. Senate, Michael Bennet, are at or below 40 percent in voter approval, and both are vulnerable in the 2010 election if the state’s Republicans can find strong candidates.

Voters tend to know less about their senators and associate them with partisan problems in Washington. Even Senator Mark Udall had low numbers in the August survey. However, Bennet is especially endangered with 7 percent more disapproval than approval and 31 percent of voters with no awareness of him. And, along with having to deal with hyper partisan issues like health care reform and cap and trade, Bennet can no longer depend on Obama’s popularity to pull the electorate in the Democratic direction.

There is at least some doubt as to usefulness of Obama’s grassroots organization. Because, although it shows up on command to pressure Democrats to stay liberal on issues like health care, it may not represent a lot of 2010 election day enthusiasm.

Fortunately for Bennet, he is the seated senator and can use the office to make his case; he has more than $2 million in campaign cash; and he has no high-profile, well-funded Republicans on the horizon. Unfortunately, as of September, he has a primary opponent, former Democratic Speaker of the House, Andrew Romanoff.

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