Hickenlooper leading Beauprez by 6 percent in one poll, behind him by 1 percent in another

Those who feel political polls conducted long before an election frequently have very little news value can point to two new pieces of evidence to bolster their argument.

Yesterday, media organizations ballyhooed a poll showing that Governor John Hickenlooper leads Republican challenger Bob Beauprez by a surprisingly large 6 percent margin. Today, they're doing the same in regard to a survey showing Beauprez ahead by 1 percent.

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Both of the polls were conducted by well-known and reputable organizations. The first, released on July 15, comes courtesy of Marist Poll, associated with New York's Marist University and NBC News. The second, dated July 16, is by Connecticut's Quinnipiac University.

Despite being made public just 24 hours apart, the Marist and Quinnipiac polls come to significantly different conclusions. The former maintains that "incumbent Governor Hickenlooper leads his Republican challenger Bob Beauprez, 49% to 43%, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate." The latter states that "the race for governor is tied, with 43 percent for Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper and 44 percent for former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Republican challenger."

There are plenty of other variations between the polls when it comes to demographics, gender and party support, as you'll see when you examine the data for each in documents on view below. As for whether one is more accurate than the other, even the most advanced statistical analysis is unlikely to offer proof. So feel free to believe the one that supports your views -- or don't. Months before ballots are cast, it doesn't matter much either way despite the big headlines.

Here are details about the polls, which contain information about plenty of other races and issues as well.

Marist July 15 Poll

Quinnipiac Poll July 16

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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