Udall’s Pro-Obamacare Stance Hurting Him With Voters

December 7, 2013
Poll results released Friday suggest Democrat Sen. Mark Udall may be suffering from a bad case of Obamacare

Poll results suggest Democrat Sen. Mark Udall may be suffering from a bad case of Obamacare

DENVER—Poll results released Friday show Democrat Sen. Mark Udall suffering from a bad case of Obamacare.

The left-leaning Public Policy Polling survey found Udall’s favorability rating underwater, with 40 percent saying they approve of his job performance and 41 percent saying they disapprove.

That’s a sizeable drop from April, when the same poll showed Udall’s approval rating at 50 percent versus 33 percent disapproval.

The latest numbers skew closely to the 44 percent approve/44 percent disapprove results released Nov. 20 by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

On the other hand, Udall holds a narrow lead against four potential Republican opponents—but that’s not necessarily great news for an incumbent who enjoys widespread name recognition and isn’t dogged by scandal as he seeks reelection in 2014.

The biggest explanation for his weak showing? His votes in favor of the Affordable Care Act and his association with the disastrous health-care rollout in Washington, D.C., said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli.

“He’s suffering from the general vulnerability of Democrats over Obamacare,” said Ciruli. “He’s an incumbent with no fatal flaws. His problem is that he’s from Washington.”

In hypothetical match-ups, Udall tops the four leading Republicans vying for the party’s nomination, but not by much. His strongest challenger is Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who’s the favorite of 45 percent of Republican voters surveyed.

Udall edges Buck by a margin of 46 to 42 percent, but Udall’s lead isn’t much stronger against the rest of the field. Against state Sen. Randy Baumgardner (R-Hot Sulphur Springs), Udall leads 47 to 40 percent, even though a whopping 76 percent of the voters say they are “not sure” about their opinion of Baumgardner.

Similarly, more than 80 percent of Republicans are “not sure” what they think about state Rep. Amy Stephens (R-Monument) and state Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs), but Udall runs ahead of both challengers by just 44 to 37 percent.

The numbers point to a growing anybody-but-Udall mood in the Colorado electorate, said Republican strategist Dick Wadhams.

“There’s no doubt that he is now considered a vulnerable incumbent,” said Wadhams. “His performance against all the Republican candidates shows a strong Republican candidate can defeat him, and that’s going to be the challenge of our party: to nominate a candidate who has not alienated voter groups in the past and has the ability to be disciplined and can lay out a clear agenda to defeat Mark Udall.”

The Cook Political Report has tagged the race as “leans Democrat,” while the Rothenberg Political Report called it “safe Democrat” as of Nov. 8.

“The rough last couple of months have certainly put John Hickenlooper and Mark Udall in a position where they could be vulnerable next year,” said PPP president Dean Debnam in a statement. “It’s just not clear whether the GOP is going to put forth candidates who can take advantage of that vulnerability.”

The PPP poll surveyed 928 registered Colorado voters from Dec. 3-4 via automated phone calls. The margin of error was +/- 3.2 percent to +/- 5.2 percent for the GOP sample of 355 regular Republican primary voters.

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