DENVER — Sen. Mark Udall’s reelection prospects took another hit Sunday when political analyst Stuart Rothenberg predicted on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the Democrat would lose in November.
Moderator Candy Crowley asked three panelists discussing the 2014 campaign to “give me what will surprise me the day after the election in terms of the Senate race.”
Rothenberg, director of the Rothenberg Political Report and a Roll Call columnist, predicted that Republican Rep. Cory Gardner would capture the Colorado Senate seat.
“I think probably Udall loses in Colorado to Cory Gardner in a race that three months ago we would have said was off the table,” said Rothenberg.
The prediction underscores the growing perception that Udall is on the verge of joining, if he hasn’t already, the short list of Democratic Senate incumbents whose seats are in real danger of falling to Republicans in November.
Udall has seen his political fortunes drop this year perhaps more dramatically than any other Senate incumbent, thanks to a combination of factors that include President Obama’s declining popularity; an outcry over Udall’s staff pressuring state insurance officials to revise their Obamacare cancellations, and Gardner’s recent jump into the race.
Udall has also been dinged by his connection to climate-change movement. He spoke during the Senate’s climate-change all-nighter in March and attended a February fundraiser thrown by liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, who has pledged to spend $100 million to elect politicians who support his issue.
Less than two months ago, the Rothenberg Political Report had Udall’s seat listed as “Safe Democrat,” but Gardner’s decision in late February to enter the Senate contest prompted Rothenberg to change the rating to “Democrat Favored.”
A month later, Rothenberg downgraded the race again to “Leans Democrat,” citing recent polling in Colorado as well as GOP success in the March 11 special House election in Florida.
“When Gardner jumped into the race, we immediately changed our Rothenberg Political Report rating of the race to Democrat Favored,” said analyst Nathan L. Gonzales in a March 20 post. “Now, we’re changing our rating to Leans Democrat, placing it firmly on the playing field of competitive races that could decide control of the Senate.”
Udall rolled out his new campaign theme, “True Colorado,” at last week’s Democratic Party State Assembly at the Colorado Convention Center, an effort to emphasize his Western roots and change the subject from his ties to unpopular Obama administration programs like the Affordable Care Act.
“Mark Udall: This is what true Colorado looks like,” says the video’s narrator.
Polls released in March shortly after Gardner entered the Senate campaign show the candidates locked in a statistical tie. A Harper Polling survey for the GOP-tilting American Action Network found Udall leading Gardner by 45 to 44 percentage points, while Rasmussen Reports showed Udall ahead by 42 to 41 percent.
Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling shows Udall edging Gardner by 42 to 40 percentage points.