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Colorado Senate Race Is Heading For A Photo Finish

Colorado Senate Race Is Heading For A Photo Finish

The race between Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and his Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner remains a dogfight.

Colorado will be one of the battleground states determining which party will control the Senate next year.

The liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday has Gardner ahead of Udall 47-45 percent, within the poll’s 3.8 percent margin of error.

And a new report by Gallup shows that for the first half of 2014, Colorado voters are dead even in terms of whether they lean Democrat or Republican, tied at 42 percent.

“Udall was elected to the Senate in a strong Democratic year, and Gardner was elected to the House in a strong Republican year,” Gallup reported. “Now they are fighting for the same Senate seat at a time when the population of Colorado is sharply divided, but with the political profile of the state closer to what was seen in 2010 than in 2008.”

That profile measures Coloradans’ opinions of President Obama’s job performance. In 2010, Obama had a 45 percent approval rating in the state. It is down to 41 percent this year. Both figures are below the national average.

Obama’s unpopularity is driving Gardner’s main point of attack — that Udall has voted in lockstep with the administration and is therefore out of touch with his constituents.

A new ad by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, themed around the 1980s soap opera “Dynasty,” drives home the point. It features a clip of Udall saying that he will “stand up to anyone” in the Senate.

“But Mark Udall voted 99 percent of the time with Barack Obama,” the narrator says, citing a widely quoted statistic from Congressional Quarterly. “Not a lot of room to work with anyone else.”

The spot also attacks Udall for telling a radio interviewer he would vote again for Obamacare.

But the Gallup poll also provides insight into Udall’s line of attack against Gardner, which has been hammered around the theme that Republicans are waging a “war on women.”

According to the poll, female voters in Colorado lean Democrat, by 46-37 percent. The PPP poll was even more in Udall’s favor in terms of the gender gap, with 51 percent of women surveyed saying they would vote for Udall compared to 41 percent who would vote for Gardner.

“Udall has placed his bets on reproductive rights as the issue that will activate women on his behalf,” Gallup reported. “Udall has heavily focused his offense on Gardner’s opposition to abortion, as well as Gardner’s positions on birth control and ‘personhood’ for fetuses.”

Several pollsters have noted the difficulty in reading how Colorado voters will fall in the Senate race this year, including the difficulty in reaching some Latino voters and the proliferation of voters who only use cell phones and not a home phone.

Another factor is difficulty in predicting the demographics of those who will turn out to vote in a midterm.

“[Gi]ven that turnout in midterm elections is typically near 40 percent,” Gallup reported, “the political profile of voters in midterms can differ markedly from the general public.

“Any edge either candidate can get in turning out his base, such as by activating conservatives or women, could be decisive.”

In other words, the race is still too close to call.

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