Former Colorado Democratic Party Chairman and pollster Floyd Ciruli picks up on the big question in Colorado politics on his blog today — is Governor Hickenlooper in trouble?

Noting the shocking transition Hickenlooper’s reputation has undergone — from moderate to “leader of a very socially liberal, anti-business state government” — Ciruli points out how much Hick has lost control of his own image:

Hickenlooper tried to frame the session as simply addressing major needs in a moderate fashion with a minimalist state-of-state address advocating gun registration and civil unions. But, he lost control of the messaging as national interest in the issues overwhelmed local positioning and, for example, made Colorado a gun control success story for embattle [sic] advocates…

The sheer volume of Democratic proposals on guns, gays, drugs, taxes, death penalty, spending and regulation took over and altered Hickenlooper’s moderate image to that of a leader of very socially liberal, anti-business state government. As of today, gun control, the legislature’s signature issue, is not very popular in Colorado, with only 49 percent of the public supporting either stricter laws in general or an assault weapons ban specifically.

The effect of this strong shift to the left on Hick’s part — something also noted in The New Yorker profile of Hick today — is to submerge his approval rating under water with independents.

As the chart created by Ciruli highlights (see below), Hick’s approval among indies has gone from a positive 59-21 approve/disapprove last November to an upside down 40-48 in the April Public Policy Polling statewide survey.

All the Democrat hyperventilating about the GOP not having a candidate is spin. The GOP will have a candidate, and whoever it is, he or she will face a challenge in John Hickenlooper that all of the sudden doesn’t seem so daunting.

UPDATE: Compare Floyd Ciruli’s reasoned analysis and the shocking turnaround with Hickenlooper’s approval among independents to Colorado Pols insistence that “there’s absolutely nothing here to indicate Hickenlooper will be seriously threatened in 2014.” What’s more believable — that Hick has a smooth ride to re-election or that the waters surrounding his candidacy suddenly got a lot choppier?