Poll: Christie leads Clinton in Colorado

DENVER – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Colorado if the 2016 presidential vote were held today, a poll released Wednesday found.

Fresh off his own re-election as governor, Christie is the most popular Republican prospect among Colorado voters, beating Clinton 46 percent to 38 percent, according to the poll by Quinnipiac University of Connecticut.

The poll also found that 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.

“The race might be hypothetical, but the lead is very real. Coloradans are showing the love for Garden State Gov. Christopher Christie, who for the first time is running well ahead of Hillary Clinton,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a news release.

While none of the presidential candidates has entered the race yet, the poll tested names of people who are known to be interested and provides an early snapshot of their popularity three years before the 2016 vote.

Clinton was losing by smaller margins to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (44 percent to 47 percent) and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (43 percent to 45 percent). She was tied at 44 percent with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

The poll found that the popularity of Democrats in general plummeted since the last time Quinnipiac surveyed voters in August. But Republicans don’t have much to cheer about. Their popularity ratings remain even lower than Democrats’.

Colorado voters have unfavorable views of the Democratic Party, with 39 percent approving and 54 percent disapproving; the Republican Party, 34 percent to 56 percent; and the GOP’s tea party faction, 34 percent to 48 percent.

The dynamic is reflected in the 2014 races for governor and U.S. Senate, where Democrats Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall hold leads.

Hickenlooper theoretically is 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 4- to 6-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 1 point when Quinnipiac polled in August.

“With about a year to go before the 2014 election, the governor gets what we would call a split rating,” Malloy said.

Hickenlooper leads Secretary of State Scott Gessler 45 percent to 40 percent, state Sen. Greg Brophy 44-38, and former state Sen. Mike Kopp 44-40.

Udall was running slightly ahead of his GOP challengers, beating 2010 Senate candidate Ken Buck 45 percent to 42 percent; state Sen. Randy Baumgardner 44 percent to 39 percent; state Sen. Owen Hill 45 percent to 39 percent; and state Rep. Amy Stephens 45 percent to 38 percent.

Durango businessman Jaime McMillan, a virtually unknown candidate, did as well as Buck, getting 40 percent to Udall’s 43 percent. McMillan has run for a handful of offices as a Democrat and an unaffiliated candidate. He switched to the Republican Party for the Senate race.

The poll conducted last Friday through Monday surveyed 1,206 registered voters, with a margin of error of 2.8 percent.