Mark Udall is looking vulnerable. And according to a Quinnipiac poll releasted today, it's Ken Buck who is best positioned to take out the Colorado Senator who rode the Obama wave to election in 2008. The poll shows Udall with a slim lead over Buck at 45-42 with a 2.9% MoE. Essentially this race is tied, and a look at some of the cross tabs explains why.
But before we dive in to the general election issues, lets take a quick look at the Denver Post for how the primary is shaking out.
Based on fundraising and name recognition, Buck is the party's front runner among a wide field of Republicans vying to unseat Udall that includes state Sens. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs, Owen Hill of Colorado Springs and state Rep. Amy Stephens of Monument. The primary is June 24.
Stephens, who raised only 51,000 in the final quarter of last year and has a negative cash-on-hand balance, polls slightly closer to Udall in a head-to-head match up 41 percent to 43 percent.
It isn't surprising that Buck is the front runner. I worked on Ken's campaign up until this month and I saw first hand how hard he works. Buck's schedule has been a flurry of events across the state, including radio and print interviews. Ken managed to visit all 64 counties in Colorado by January while still taking the time to make an impression on each individually.
Now back to the general election match up.
The impact Obamacare has had on this race cannot be underestimated. When asked in the poll whether or not a candidates support for Obamacare would make a difference in how they vote, the result was very telling.
For those who can't see what the image shows, 52% say that support for Obamacare would make them less likely to vote for a candidate. For the 18-29 age bracket that falls to 49%, which should still scare the party which has depended on the youth vote to a not insignificant degree the last few election cycles.
That same youth demographic is evenly split on whether Mark Udall deserves to be reelected. Likewise, in the head to head match up between Buck and Udall, Buck gets 42% of the youth vote to Udall's 38%. We see an even larger edge with independent voters where Buck captures 44% while Udall is struggling at 36%.
Colorado is a state that is relatively evenly broken up in thirds between Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. If you lose the indies, you typically lose the election. With Obamacare polling so poorly with indies and the youth, and its unpopularity tied directly to Mark Udall, don't be surprised if you see more and more talk about the possibility of Colorado becoming a Senate pickup for the GOP.
All of this comes just a week after Udall refused to say whether he would campaign with President Obama in Colorado. With the President's signature achievement despised by nearly 60% of all Coloradans, that was probably a good call by Udall.
This is all good news for Ken Buck's campaign, which launched its first in a series of position papers this week. You can read Ken's position paper on the Scope of Government here. You can also go to the RedState Slate Card for 2014 and make a donation if you like what you see.
*Full Disclosure: I was the Communications Director for the Buck For Colorado campaign and continue to consult for the campaign in limited a fashion.