Colorado Democrats won over just about every demographic group they could in their sweeping victory in last week’s election, according to a poll released Tuesday.
Unaffiliated voters? Gov. Jared Polis won them by a 33-percentage-point margin over Heidi Ganahl, his Republican challenger. U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet won them by 25 percentage points over GOP rival Joe O’Dea.
Suburban women? Polis won them by 36 percentage points, while Bennet won them by 31 percentage points.
Overall, The Mountaineer Research exit poll of voters who participated in the Nov. 8 election found Ganahl and O’Dea never stood a chance among a statewide electorate that’s increasingly turned off by Republican politics: Only 42% of voters said they ever even considered voting for Ganahl, and 45% for O’Dea.
Both ended up losing to the Democratic incumbents by wide margins. In the Senate race, the latest election results from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office had Bennet winning nearly 56% of the vote to O’Dea’s 41%. In the governor’s race, Polis was winning with nearly 59% to Ganahl’s 39% — a margin of more than 19 percentage points that was remarkably larger than Polis’ 10.6-percentage-point win four years ago.
The poll was conducted by two Democratic groups, the well-regarded polling firm Global Strategy Group and advocacy organization ProgressNow Colorado. Their earlier pre-election poll was among the most accurate in Colorado compared to the election results.
For the exit poll, GSG surveyed 800 Colorado voters, including those who voted early and those who voted on Election Day. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Abortion rights proved to be a deciding factor in Colorado voters’ minds, the poll confirmed. It was the top issue for Democrats. For unaffiliated voters, abortion was tied with inflation and the economy.
Among unaffiliated voters, 68% of those surveyed said they couldn’t vote for a candidate who wanted to ban abortion, even if they agreed with them on issues such as economic policy.
“Abortion really boosted the margin for Democrats up and down the ticket,” pollster Andrew Baumann said, “whereas they held their own on the economy, fought off crime and won a little more votes on democracy and voting rights as well.”
Democrats held a slight edge over Republicans as the party voters trusted more to improve the economy and create good-paying jobs (47% to 45%) and to address the state’s rising cost of living (45% to 44%).
Both of those results were within the poll’s margin of error — but Democrats kept up despite Republicans hammering them on inflation and economic instability throughout the campaign.
“That’s your main message from Republicans — and if you don’t end up winning that, you’re really struggling,” Baumann said.
On the issues Baumann’s firm asked about, voters trusted Republicans more than Democrats only on reducing crime. But that was a top issue only for a small portion of voters, Baumann said.
The poll also found a plurality of voters, 49%, thought “too extreme” was an apt description for Republicans, versus 38% who said it was not. Unaffiliated voters agreed with that description by a 16-percentage-point margin, according to the poll. And 61% of all voters thought Republicans would try to ban abortion in Colorado if they took power.
Last session, Republicans in the state House of Representatives led an all-night filibuster against a Democratic bill to codify abortion protections in state law. Some in the party, notably O’Dea in the Senate race, had tried to distance themselves from outright abortion bans.
Overall, fully half of poll respondents strongly agreed that Republicans “have embraced Donald Trump, Lauren Boebert and MAGA extremism” so much that they’d have a hard time voting for members of the party in the future.
“The issues of abortion, Donald Trump and election denial really do doom the ticket,” Baumann said.
Comparatively, 35% of voters thought Democrats were too extreme, while 55% disagreed with the description. A higher share (49%) also disagreed that Democrats “care more about pushing a woke, radical ideology than improving the economy,” versus 42% who said that statement described the party well.
Overall, 51% said the description “mostly focused on the right things” applied to Democrats well, while 45% said that about Republicans. And 47% said Democrats “care about people like me,” versus 37% who said that about Republicans.
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