Poll: Hickenlooper slides, but still leads GOP field

DENVER – Less than half of Colorado voters think Gov. John Hickenlooper deserves re-election, but he still maintained or even expanded his lead over Republican challengers in a poll released Tuesday.

According to the Quinnippiac University poll, Hickenlooper is theoretically vulnerable in the 2014 election, with just 42 percent of respondents saying he deserves re-election, while 49 percent say he does not.

But Hickenlooper maintained a four to six point advantage over the top four Republicans in the race, including a 46 percent to 41 percent lead over former congressman Tom Tancredo. Hickenlooper was beating Tancredo by just one point when Quinnippiac polled in August.

“With about a year to go before the 2014 election, the governor gets what we would call a split rating,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnippiac University Polling Institute.

Predictions of a liberal backlash against Hickenlooper’s strong stand in favor of gas and oil drilling have not come true. Hickenlooper is “incredibly strong” with his Democratic base, Malloy said, with 88 percent of Democrats supporting him. Other governors tend to get 70 percent to 80 percent support from their parties, he said.

The poll also found that voters dislike the idea of new restrictions on guns more than they dislike the actual laws the Legislature passed this spring.

Voters oppose “the stricter new gun control laws” 55 percent to 40 percent. But they support universal background checks 85 percent to 14 percent. A limit on the size of ammunition magazines is much less popular, essentially tied at 49 percent in favor and 48 percent against.

“Voters don’t like gun control, or maybe they just don’t like the words ‘gun control,’” Malloy said in a news release.

Coloradans also support hydraulic fracturing of natural gas and oil reservoirs, 51 percent to 34 percent. But there was a large gender gap, with men favoring it 60 percent to 30 percent and women supporting it just 42 percent to 38 percent. Democrats opposed fracking 54 percent to 26 percent.

The poll conducted Nov. 15 to 18 surveyed 1,206 registered voters, with a margin of error of 2.8 percent.