Poll: Cory Gardner in Trouble Heading Into 2020

Senator Cory Gardner at a Lakewood town hall in 2017.
Senator Cory Gardner at a Lakewood town hall in 2017.
Brandon Marshall
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A poll released this week shows that Republican Senator Cory Gardner's chances for re-election might be south of 50-50, at least as things currently stand.

In a survey of 540 Coloradans conducted earlier this month by Change Research, Gardner would lose a hypothetical match-up against a generic Democratic candidate by a 47-41 margin, and his disapproval rating sits at 50 percent.

The poll's biggest takeaway, though, is Gardner's underwater numbers with independents, a key constituency that usually decides statewide elections (Democrats and Republicans vote in roughly equal numbers in Colorado). Senator Gardner’s net unfavorables are 14 points higher than his favorables among independents. Polls leading up to his win over then-Democratic incumbent Mark Udall in 2014 had Gardner narrowly winning independent voters.

The most recent poll should be taken with a grain of salt, however: Change Research gets only a C+ rating from FiveThirtyEight. Oh, and we're 23 months away from the vote, which is an eternity in politics, especially these days.

But a January 2018 University of Colorado poll produced similar results to Change Research's survey (the CU poll had 48 percent disapproval for Gardner, with just 25 percent supporting him).

Democrats swept all statewide offices by relatively wide margins in last month's midterm elections in Colorado in what most pundits saw as a strong anti-Trump referendum. Gardner will have to do what Walker Stapleton, George Brauchler and Wayne Williams, among others, were unable to do, assuming Trump's popularity continues to be where it is: successfully create his own political brand that distances himself enough from the president while still keeping his Republican base happy.

Considering Gardner's likely delicate position heading into 2020, big out-of-state money will be thrown into the race, and Democrats will be counting on Colorado as a possible pick-up in their relatively long-shot odds of taking back the Senate next cycle.

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