Lynn Bartels reports in Post of the new Quinnipiac Poll just out that shows, not unexpectedly, Gov. Hick’s numbers are down with independents. Also, not unexpectedly, conservative blogosphere (including reliably right Colorado Peak Politics) hung their collective hats on that notable blip in the Q poll.
Colorado’s electorate being so evenly split 1/3 Rs, 1/3 Ds and 1/3 (but with a bullet) registered Independents, the game always comes down in November general elections over who can 1.) turn out their base, and (2.) win independents.
So, seeing numbers that say 51% of independents don’t think the Guv deserves reelection (41% think he does), will certainly not go unnoticed at Hick campaign HQ. And will absolutely be trumpeted by Rs/right writers.
There’s more bad news for Hick that, among independents, he’s losing them to all four of the major Republican gubernatorial candidates, Tancredo, Gessler, Kopp, Brophy, by as much as 37-46 (to Tancredo), and 40-42 (Gessler). The spread with Tancredo is the most interesting. He’s the odds-on primary winner (for now) and probably the best known among general election voters (he was on the ballot as the standard bearer for the American Constitution Party in 2010, plus a nationally-recognized immigration flamethrower).
But the news likely won’t trigger DEFCON 1 with Hick’s peeps. Why? A few reasons:
First, the internal general election head-to-heads show Hick up 6 on Gessler, up 11 on Tancredo. Comfortable leads at this point.
Second, as Q poll put it in their analysis: “This is the first registered voter survey by… Quinnipiac in which Gov. Hickenlooper’s approval rating tops 50 percent. There is a wide gender gap as women approve 60 – 29 percent while among men 44 percent approve and 48 percent disapprove. Approval is 84 – 6 percent among Democrats, but Republicans disapprove 63 – 28 percent.”
Third, the R primary is just starting to get active beyond the hardest of hard core base R conversations. Once they crank up the crazy to fire up primary voters, a good amount of the indie support for the mostly unknown Hick opponents will go free-agent/switch back to Hick.
Fourth, Hick had a flat-out terrible 2013 — both in the legislature and in his office. He won’t have as bad a 2014 (as long as fires/floods take a year off). He’s unopposed in his primary and has a friendly and (mostly) smart legislative leadership that won’t make him overreach during this session — and may even give him the opportunity to veto something lefty just for good measure. He will have the freedom to find his way back to center at the same time Rs are pushing right.
The Guv has put himself in this position. He’s a leans-a-little-left-of-center leader — but his emphasis is on the center. His ties with and support for business and commerce aren’t a fake. His understanding of energy is not newly found. Get ready for the guv to start talking jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs…. over and over and over…. from now until November. He’s got a good jobs and business record to tout, and centrist independents, ready to shake off Great Recession blues, are ready and willing to hear it.
Rs and conservative indies will certainly want push Hick around on death penalty, guns and immigration. They are real issues — and turf the guv will not want to fight over.
And it’s an outside possibility that a wildcard independent could pop up (Hello, Glendale/Glendale Ballet Mayor Mike Dunafon!) to play games with libertarian/independent voters and make a difference on the margins.
But with the current Guv getting love in the latest Q poll that shows, “…Coloradans give him good marks for trust, leadership and understanding their needs…,” a weak field of ideological red purists in a purple state, plenty of legislative time to tack to center, and a sizeable, persuadable independent middle that won’t pay attention for a few more months, polls are pointing up for the Guv.