Politics & Policy

Libertarian Could Decide Colo. Senate Race

A new poll for the U.S. Senate race pitting appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet against Republican Ken Buck throws a new wrinkle into the polling mix. This year, Democrats face incredible opposition on the generic ballot, and incumbency — usually a boon — is now an albatross for elected officials.

So voters should be moving inexorably to Republicans, right?

Not according to a new poll in the Denver Post that shows Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Maclyn Stringer garnering five percent of the vote. This is the first poll in the Colorado U.S. Senate contest to name the third party candidate instead of the generic “other.” The final result shows Bennet and Buck in a statistical dead heat.

Bennet also sees some of the most positive polling numbers since the hotly contested primaries concluded August 10.

Bennet leads Buck, 43 to 40 percent, in the poll from Public Opinion Strategies:

“The anti-Washington sentiment and general political environment would seemingly be working against Bennet,” stated Lori Weigel. “Incumbents tend to receive what they see in the polling, with undecided voters more likely to opt for change. However, this year, with disgust at politics and both parties running high, we have the potential for relatively unknown third party candidates to siphon off enough votes to change traditional campaign dynamics.”

Men back Buck 46 to 37 percent, while women support Bennet 50 to 35 percent. Voter intensity, measured as support of candidates by members of their own party, favors Bennet (85 percent of Democrats back their nominee, while only 76 percent of Republicans do the same). Bennet also holds a slight edge among unaffiliated voters.

Other findings:

• The battle for the ‘burbs. The most evenly divided area of Colorado is in the suburbs. Among voters who describe where they live as suburban, 42% choose Bennet and 40% Buck, well within margin of error.

• Latino voters’ interesting dynamics. While a significant majority of 61% of Latino voters choose Bennet, 26% prefer Buck. However, Latino voters are one of the most definitive groups in their support for Bennet (47% say they will “definitely” vote for him). White voters are evenly divided between the two candidates (42% Bennet and 42% Buck).

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