PERRY: CU poll tints Colorado a deeper blue with paint-by-number political landscape


No doubt Colorado Republicans are feeling pretty blue today, just like the rest of the state.

An annual CU Boulder American Politics Research Lab report on the state of statewide politics reveals what’s becoming increasingly obvious: Once purple, Colorado is turning politically blue.

Well, you can imagine that such discouraging news for Republicans would have them seeing red, or wanting to.

Hired guns for the GOP are taking aim at the 33-page study, chock-full of intriguing but entirely unsurprising findings.

Logan Dobson, a data wonk for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which raises cash to get Republicans elected, pooh-poohed the work in a twitter-festo, saying it just can’t be right.

To his credit, he point outs that the CU study seemed to include responses from more minorities than you might expect from a random sampling in Colorado, but it is what it is. This is not the CU Boulder political science department’s first rodeo.

What wigs out Dobson and others is that those polled in the CU study of about 800 said they really, really didn’t like Sen. Cory Gardner in November. Big surprise. Try as he might, Gardner couldn’t disguise his partisan sycophancy through round after round of trying to undermine Obamacare and Medicaid, which have an surprising tie to rural Republicans. And while the poll shows they disliked Gardner in November — 48 percent to 25 percent — Coloradans absolutely loathed President Donald Trump. Sixty-three percent thought Trump sucks, and 35 percent didn’t.

Like all polls and studies, it’s a snap-shot in time that tries to give some read on the minds of the masses. I’ve learned not to put money on any of them, and to see them for what they are: interesting weather reports that make for risky weather forecasts.

Given that, here’s what CU political science wonks saw in Colorado’s gathering political clouds at the end of last year:

• Colorado is shifting left. That doesn’t necessarily mean the state is becoming a bastion of Democratic control. For two years running, 39 percent of those polled consider themselves politically liberal, and 30 percent consider themselves moderate. Only 31 percent consider themselves conservative. If you need proof of this trend, look to Aurora, where three seriously progressive candidates just muscled their way onto the city council. Once a GOP stronghold, every state legislative seat in the city is now held by a Democrat.

• Only 35 percent of those polled think the federal government should decrease the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country each year.

• About two-thirds of the polling group support big gifts to big corporations for big job creation, such as the Amazon H2Q contest.

• An overwhelming number of respondents, both minorities and whites, think race relations in the country are bad or really bad.

• A vast majority of Colorado residents worry about climate change — vast majority.

• Almost all Democrats, and most unaffiliated residents, want so-called Dreamers to be allowed to stay in the country, while only about half of Republicans back a DACA solution.

• Here’s a big one: Fifty-nine percent of those polled want increased gun control laws. It breaks out to 82 percent of Democrats, 49 percent of unaffiliated residents and 31 percent of Republicans.

• Half of the state wants single-payer health care, and 13 percent are unsure. This reflects much of the nation.

• Support for the state’s misguided Taxpayer Bill of Rights eroded. Less than half of those polled now support it, and a growing number of residents oppose it. No doubt that if more Coloradans knew what it really was and what it really did, as opposed to what supporters say that it does, we’d be able to get this cancer excised from the Colorado Constitution.

• We love our legal weed laws in Colorado. Two-thirds of the residents see them as the good ideas that they are.

• Health care worries Colorado most, when it comes to problems the state faces. Close to that, those polled think the state should focus on the economy, immigration and education. In urban areas, crime is a big concern. In rural areas, health care is the chief worry. And concerns about foreign trade, national defense and energy policy? Nada.

• Half of those polled have already decided who they’d like to see win the governor’s job this fall. Democrat Jared Polis and Republican — again — Tom Tancredo are the strong favorites. This is the first year that unaffiliated voters can “temporarily” claim a political party and vote in the gubernatorial primary election in June. The study pointed out that 45 percent of those asked would vote in the Democratic primary and 34 percent in the Republican race. Given all that, and the clear trend toward unaffiliated and left-leaning voters in the study, and Tancredo’s man-crush on Trump, Polis is probably wondering whether he’s going to live in the Governor’s Mansion next year or somewhere on Hilltop.

Unknown from the poll is the fate of the Colorado Legislature. Urban liberals must bang the drum for getting tough on crime. Rural conservatives have got to rally behind heavily subsidized health care. And any candidate with a Trump bumper sticker on their car will feel the pain at the ballot box.

As of late last year, Democrats surveyed in the CU study felt good about the Colorado Legislature, even though they owned just the state House. Republicans, who rule the state Senate by one vote, overwhelmingly didn’t like the job the Legislature is doing, and unaffiliated voters felt about the same.

Swirling clouds there. Either side could make gains in the General Assembly this fall, but those polled made it clear Democrats own the electorate’s sympathy on most of the issues.

My take away? Colorado will look good in royal blue.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]