Obama's abysmal approval ratings will influence Colorado's elections

John Frank and Lynn Bartels --- The Denver Post

For years, Pamela Whitt canceled her Republican husband's vote each November.

This election, however, the 63-year-old registered Democrat who considers herself an independent is switching her loyalties. And she blames one person: President Barack Obama.

"I am just totally turned off by Obama and his policies," she said. "In my mind, he's getting his power from the Democrats who are in office, so I'm voting against them."

new Denver Post poll released Monday suggests Whitt is not alone. And the disillusionment is helping to boost the Republicans at the top of the ticket in two deadlocked campaigns.

In the U.S. Senate race, Republican Cory Gardner holds a 2-point edge against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, 45 percent to 43 percent, according to a SurveyUSA poll of self-identified likely voters.

In the governor's race, Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper is holding a 1-point lead against Republican challenger Bob Beauprez, 45 percent to 44 percent, a far closer campaign than many expected.

The poll — taken Thursday through Sunday — puts both races within the margin of error of 4.1 percentage points, but the underlying numbers show Republicans in a good position at a key moment in a crucial election.

A final three-week frenzy begins Tuesday as Colorado begins to send mail ballots to voters ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

The Gardner-Udall race is one of the closest of several races in the nation that may decide which party controls the U.S. Senate. Beauprez is trying to become the first candidate to unseat an incumbent Colorado governor in 52 years.

About two-thirds of likely voters say their opinion of the president is a factor in their decision this November, the Post poll found. Obama's approval rating is 41 percent compared with 56 percent who disapprove.

Of those voters who consider Obama a major factor in their decision, nearly 70 percent plan to vote Republican in Colorado's U.S. Senate and governor's races.

"What you have is an anti-Obama sentiment top of mind, front lobe, for many of the Republicans who are showing up to vote in 2014," said Jay Leve, the Survey-USA pollster. "By contrast, when you ask a Democrat how much the president is affecting or influencing their vote in 2014, they respond, 'Obama who?' "

Gardner's campaign is putting the focus on Obama in its attacks on Udall, emphasizing how he sided with the White House in 99 percent of his votes. Udall counters that Gardner is out of touch when it comes to social issues such as abortion and birth control.

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