Obama leading in Colorado, poll says, despite CU forecast predicting Romney win

This week, we shared a CU forecast predicting a Mitt Romney win in Colorado and the U.S. as a whole based on data that also proved accurate when applied to past presidential races. But a new poll says Barack Obama is maintaining his close lead in Colorado. Who to believe? If there's one thing everyone can agree on, it's that the race in this key swing state is so close that a victory by either side wouldn't be too surprising.

The latest poll, released this morning by Keating Research, Inc. and Onsight Public Affairs, finds that Obama leads over 48 percent to 44 percent in this battleground state. It's the first in a series of live-interview tracking polls that the groups will publish leading up to the November election.

"The main takeaway is that when you look at the [Paul] Ryan vice presidential [pick]...it really hasn't affected this race," says Chris Keating, president of Keating Research, who works for Democrats. "We are still seeing Obama with a lead that's just inside the margin of error."

The poll, based on 500 live telephone interviews conducted earlier this week among likely November 2012 voters, determines that both candidates have successfully solidified their bases; 90 percent of Democrats support Obama and 87 percent of Republicans prefer Romney. It also finds that Obama is winning key unaffiliated voters (a crucial demographic in such a close race), with 50 percent favoring him as compared to 36 percent for Romney.

Keating says that over the last several months, not much has changed for Colorado voters, even after the vice presidential pick of Paul Ryan, which could have shaken up the race.

It's worth noting that this poll is an entirely different way of analyzing the race from the forecast we reported on earlier in the week. That was based on a complex state-by-state model that focuses on economic factors and how votes will play out in the Electoral College system.

The professor behind that forecast, which predicted a Romney win, told us he doesn't think these kinds of polls from voter calls or surveys this early in the game are all that reliable given that a lot can change between now and the election, especially if the challenger candidate hasn't been officially declared at the national convention.

Keating says that while things can always change, at least according to his polling -- based on live calls with voters -- only about 5 percent of folks are undecided.

"We'll have to see how this plays out.... That's one of the reasons...to do the poll before the convention to see where we're at," he says, adding, "A lot of people have already made up their mind."

That certainly seems to be the finding from his poll, though more voters in Colorado are registered as unaffiliated than either Democratic or Republican according to data from the Colorado Secretary of State -- one of the main factors that makes the state so purple.

Continue reading for more insight on these findings and the full poll questions and results. This latest poll also confirms what is quite clear from local campaign events sponsored by both sides: the Hispanic vote and the women's vote are both going to be key in Colorado.

Keating says that Obama's advantage in Colorado can be attributed to strong support among women and Hispanic voters, with the president leading Romney 51 to 41 percent among women -- a lead that rises to 15 points among younger women. Hispanic voters -- who played an important part in Obama's election in 2008 -- break more than two to one for Obama, with 65 percent backing the president and 32 percent for Romney, the poll finds.

Keating points out what we've reported before -- that the role of the women's vote in this race could mirror Colorado Senator Michael Bennet's defeat of Republican challenger Ken Buck, based in large part on his support among female voters.

And the fact that Democrats are tying Todd Akin's controversial "legitimate rape" comments to Republicans across the board will likely only help in this area, Keating believes.

Ultimately, he says, it's important to recognize that a lot of people already have decided how they are going to vote. "You are fighting over a small sliver of voters."

Here's the full poll.

KR ONSIGHT Colorado Statewide Poll August 2012 Topline Results for RELEASE

More from our Politics archive: "Photos: Kal Penn, in Denver for Obama, talks marijuana, youth, swing states"

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