A new poll out today by RBI Strategies shows Michael Hancock edging out Chris Romer 41-37 in the Denver mayoral June runoff election. Hancock leads Romer 46-35 among Dems, and 40-37 among unaffiliateds. Romer leads Hancock 45-28 among GOP voters, who make up 19% of active voters.

Active voters are the only registration measure that matters because the election will be all-mail, with ballots only mailed to those on the active list. While the poll oversamples Democrats by eight points and undersamples unaffiliateds by six, that's probably an accurate reflection of the June electorate in a Dem heavy city, with only Democrats in the running. RBI's polling sample suggests they believe Republicans will turn out exactly in line with their active registration numbers.

That makes sense to us, as Republicans have been paying more attention as of late, with the Denver GOP, under the strong leadership of Danny "Urban Cowboy" Stroud, hosting a debate last night between Romer and Hancock. Republicans hoping for fireworks were rewarded with a sharp and contentious debate, with both candidates sniping at each other's integrity and background in the debate. As we've said before, we love it when liberals fire away at each other.

Hancock, who comes across as more likeable, we predict has a larger hurdle to cross with GOP voters due to his two pay raise votes. At a time when school budgets are being slashed and cops laid off, Hancock has voted for pay raises for city employees as well as himself. That will not go over well with a GOP electorate hungry for cuts, not increases. 

But by many accounts Hancock did a superb job at last night's debate, with Lori Horn of R Block Party praising Hancock's answers. If Hancock eats any further into Romer's GOP support, it could spell big trouble for Romer. 

The one bright spot for Romer in the poll is of all the supporters of candidates who didn't make the runoff, Mejia's supporters are the most undecided and also the most likely to vote in the runoff. Romer better hope Mejia starts pounding some serious pavement in Northwest and Southwest Denver, and soon. 

We suspect that a good part of the lead is a tribute to the gushing coverage Hancock received in the 48 hours after the first ballot. While the Post ed board endorsed Romer, the newsroom clearly sees it a different way, hailing the most positive attribute of Hancock's background (his rags to riches story) while clamping like a Bulldog on the least advantageous aspect of Romer's (his background as an investment banker). This story line is as good as free media for Hancock. He should send a meat and cheese platter to the Post newsroom for relentlessly pushing it. And Romer better figure out a way to combat it, or else.