A number of recent polls of the Colorado Senate race all suggest the same thing: this is going to be a close one. Four separate pollsters have all shown Republican Ken Buck’s lead shrinking — or disappearing altogether.The battle between Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Buck has been heated since the primary. Both sides have run nasty ads, and the candidates have gone after each other at a number of debates. But just a few weeks ago, it looked like Buck was pulling away. Bennet is an incumbent in an anti-incumbent year, with close ties to President Obama. Buck, meanwhile, boasts Tea Party support, and had seemed to have learned to be more careful after a gaffe-plagued primary.
But in recent days, Buck has been hounded by a perceived weakness on women’s issues and the reemergence of his gaffe-prone persona. A rape case he declined to prosecute in 2005 has been back in the news. On Meet The Press on October 17, he compared being gay to alcoholism. Last week, he praised Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) for being “the first person to stand up and say this global warming is the greatest hoax that has been perpetrated.” He’s even taken heat from pro-lifers for his changed stance on the “personhood” amendment on the ballot in Colorado (Buck opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest). And poll after poll shows the gap between the two candidates shrinking.
Starting October 4, there was a nine-day gap in polling for the race. Since then, polls have shown a tight race:
- Oct. 14: A Rasmussen poll found Buck leading 47%-45%, after finding Buck ahead 51%-43% on Sept. 27.
- Oct.. 16: A Fox News poll found Buck leading 46%-45%, after finding Buck ahead 47%-43% on Sept. 25.
- Oct. 17: A Reuters/Ipsos poll found Buck leading 48%-45%, after finding Buck ahead 49%-40% on Aug. 22.
- Oct. 21: SurveyUSA found the race tied at 47%, after finding Buck ahead 48%-43% on Sept. 30.
- Oct. 23: PPP also found the race tied at 47% (though PPP had actually found Bennet ahead on 46%-45% on Oct. 2).
The TPM Poll Average for this race shows Buck leading Bennet 47.9%-45.2%.
Bennet has now loaned his campaign $500,000 to help close it out (he dumped $300,000 into his campaign in the final days of a tough primary against Andrew Romanoff). Buck’s trouble with women’s issues matters because polling suggests it’s keeping Bennet in the race. SurveyUSA found that men support Buck by a 53%-42% margin, while women break for Bennet 53%-40%. Buck has been trying to refocus his campaign on spending and economic issues. Meanwhile, The Denver Post reports that Republicans have outvoted Democrats so far in early voting. With less than a week to go, there’s plenty still to play for in Colorado.