Recent Quinnipiac polls teach us several lessons about Colorado politics.

  • Coloradans are down on both political parties. A quarter of Democrats and a fifth of Republicans say they’re Independents or minor party members.
  • Coloradans are down on their Democratic elected officials … across the board. Approval ranges from 36% to 47%. Just 43% approve of Obama’s job performance (with Dems and Repubs uniformly following their party inclinations and Independents disapproving by 3:2).
  • These down-ratings aren’t a reflection of a crummy economy since 54% rate our state’s economy as excellent or good and 64% say their own personal finances are excellent or good. Challengers won’t be able to run on the economy.
  • Thumbs down, say Independents about Obama, Hickenlooper and the Democratic-controlled state legislature. Especially strong disapproval as to Obama. Bennet and Udall escape majority disapproval, but a large share of Independents say they haven’t heard enough about the senators (and the poll didn’t identify them by party). The senators’ approval ratings by Independents is within MoE of Obama’s 40% approval. This, plus Bennet/Udall comparisons, suggest (except among women and Dems) little room for Udall to grow his approval ratings.
  • Independents’ disapproval of the Dem-led legislature may stem from the immoderate Democratic contingent revealed in a recent Denver Post analysis of voting, It showed three times as many moderate Republicans as moderate Democrats. (The Post, however, somehow missed counting one Republican totally.)
  • Udall’s doing BTE – at this date – among the over 65 crowd, those with household incomes above $100,000 and better than he should among Republicans, though it’s not a stellar performance.
  • Switch voters may shift Republican in 2014. (These folks vote for one party or the other, but not at the same election.) Reading between the lines, look for Udall to struggle (comparatively) with the middle-aged, those without college degrees and those earning under $100,000. To win these, Republicans must improve their party’s image.

The Quinnipiac poll shows that Coloradans think Democrats are out of step with ordinary Coloradans’ feelings about what government should be doing. Compared to other states with longitudinal polling data, our Democrats have dropped in public approval. That’s also true comparing generic Congressional ballots in recent months to Colorado’s trial ballots changes.

LATE NEWS: CNN’s Monday poll shows the American public has soured on Obama. He faces negatives he’s not seen since early 2011 … worse than George W. Bush at times. With their higher education levels, Coloradans may have led an attitude shift away from Obama and Democrats generally. 55% of moderates (often low information voters) disapprove of his surveillance efforts, and 53% consider the American government an “immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.” In most other arenas, however, most moderates cut Obama some slack.

Holding Republicans back from a boisterous romp to victory are just two things.

  • Coloradans haven’t warmed to them as a party.
  • Republicans must show voters two crucial things: that they can run government better than the erring Democrats and that Republicans have a reasonable, achievable plan of action to help Coloradans with everyday concerns.