DENVER – The effort to recall embattled Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) is gaining steam, according to the results of a new survey. The poll, released by the women’s group I Am Created Equal, also revealed widespread voter discontent with the Democrat-controlled legislature.
“The voters in Senate District 11 are clearly leaning toward recalling Senator Morse,” said Laura Carno who heads the non-partisan group. “They are paying attention to the gun bill debate, they don’t have a highly favorable image of Senator Morse, and are more sharply in favor of the recall when they hear of proposed legislation.”
Morse is under fire for supporting a number of divisive gun control measures this year, including one the lawmaker authored that sought to hold gun manufacturers, retailers and even individual owners legally liable for damage caused by certain firearms – even if the gun in question was lost or sold.
Morse’s lawsuit proposal was ultimately defeated, but not before at least one House Democrat characterized the bill as “crazy” and “absolutely nuts.”
According to a memo outlining some of the key survey findings, a large majority of Morse’s constituents oppose the gun control measures enacted by the legislature earlier this year.
Nearly six in ten poll respondents – 58 percent – said that gun control legislation Morse helped to enact represents the “wrong approach and should not be passed” or “has good intentions but goes too far.”
That may explain why a plurality of those surveyed – 34 percent – say they support recalling Morse while just 29 percent said they opposed the effort. Another 33 percent remain undecided.
However, just 38 percent of respondents said they had heard about the recall effort — one reason why support for removing Morse isn’t higher, given broad voter unease with the gun control measures themselves.
“Given the relatively low awareness, it is not surprising to see a significant number of undecided voters,” said Nicole McCleskey of Public Opinion Strategies, the firm that conducted the poll.
But McCleskey noted that the public opinion needle moved significantly when respondents were told about Morse’s controversial bill to subject gun owners and makers to lawsuits.
“After hearing about Morse’s proposed legislation to hold gun makers liable for crimes committed with guns they manufactured, voters move sharply in favor of the recall,” said McCleskey. “With new information, 56 percent of voters in the district support Morse’s recall.”
The survey also revealed that 50 percent of those polled disapprove of the legislature’s job performance – another bad sign for Morse.
Morse’s personal approval rating was also under water in the poll. With a 64 percent name ID among respondents, only 18 percent had a favorable opinion of him compared to 24 percent who had an unfavorable view of the Senate President. Independent voters held a similar view, with a 21 percent favorable to 26 percent unfavorable split.
Supporters of the recall effort have until June 3 to submit some 7,178 valid signatures needed to put the question to voters – a goal that backers are optimistic about achieving.
“It’s a David vs. Goliath thing, but we’re still going to be successful,” said Rob Harris of the Basic Freedom Defense Fund earlier this month.
Harris’ group is one of several grassroots outfits supporting the recall effort.
Opponents of the recall came under fire earlier this month for producing a political attack ad designed to sound like an “official” public safety announcement.
The ad, dubbed a “public awareness alert” by Morse’s backers, warned voters that recall petition circulators are dangerous sexual predators or identity thieves.
Harris characterized the ad as a sign that Morse and others on the left fear that the recall may succeed.
“This just shows the level of desperation on the part of Morse,” Harris says. “He’s scared. He knows he’s in trouble. Why else would you insinuate something like that? It’s typical politics.”
The poll of 250 registered voters in Morse’s sprawling El Paso County senate district was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies between May 1 and May 2, and has a margin of error of + / – 6.2 percent.