Republican congressman Cory Gardner leads incumbent Colorado senator Mark Udall 43–37 in a new poll of likely voters released by Fox News. The poll shows Gardner leading by 15 percentage points among independent voters, who may be the deciding factor in November.
Udall’s campaign has sought to portray Gardner as an extremist and has focused on his pro-life stance against abortion as a way to turn out women voters. The newest poll shows Colorado women favor Udall by just five percentage points over Gardner, suggesting he has thus far failed to make the race solely about Gardner’s stances on abortion and contraception. Udall may have lost ground on the women’s health issue, as Gardner has publicly called for the Food and Drug Administration to offer some hormonal contraceptives over the counter and Udall has failed to identify any restrictions he would place on late-term or sex-selective abortions.
Gardner has gained ground in part by challenging Udall’s record on national-security issues. Gardner released an ad earlier this week that highlighted Udall’s absenteeism in the Senate, including his missing a majority of Senate Armed Services Committee public hearings and all public hearings on emerging threats. The ad also shows Udall doubling down on his statement that the Islamic State did not pose an imminent threat to the United States. At a debate sponsored by the Denver Post, Gardner challenged Udall about his whereabouts during the hearings and his stance on foreign policy. Udall explained that he thought the Islamic State was a “serious and immediate threat” and asked Gardner to stop politicizing the issue, despite having run his own campaign ad about the threat of the Islamic State last week. Udall’s campaign appears to have since taken down the ad.