DENVER – The first public poll done since July in Colorado’s tightest congressional race, the 6th congressional district, shows Democratic challenger Jason Crow leads incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Coffman by 11 points.
Crow leads 51-40, with 9 percent of respondents undecided and a ±4.8 margin of error, according to the poll conducted last Wednesday through Friday by the New York Times and Siena College.
The team polled the district live, eventually making 26,831 calls to reach a sample of 500 respondents. The results show that Crow’s lead in the poll is outside the margin of error, though the number of voters still undecided in the poll could swing in either direction.
“Our poll is a good result for Democrats. It’s just one poll, though,” the Times’ Upshot team wrote in its analysis. “There are many ways it could be unrepresentative of the district in November.”
“It’s good news for the Democrats. It certainly shows Crow is doing what he needs to do,” said MSU Denver Political Science Professor Robert Preuhs.
Democrats have long eyed the district as one to try and flip in the 2018 midterms, though the five-term incumbent Coffman has fended off strong challenges in the past. But after Hillary Clinton won the district over Donald Trump by 9 percent in 2016, it has again taken the spotlight in Colorado as Democrats try to flip the U.S. House of Representatives in November.
Coffman and Crow have most recently traded barbs on TV ads sponsored mostly by outside organizations and other political committees. According to the Colorado Sun, nearly $1 million worth of TV ads related to the CD6 race aired last week. Both campaigns have been raking in money over the past nine months.
The ad barrage is expected to continue up until Election Day, and polls like the NYT-Siena one could encourage more spending.
The poll is the first public poll of the race released since July, when the Global Strategy Group found Crow had a two-point lead. Another poll done in July found Crow and Coffman were tied, and one done in February showed Crow had a five-point lead.
FiveThirtyEight says that Crow has an 83 percent chance of defeating Coffman, while three other polling organizations – Cook Political Report, the Center for Politics and Inside Elections – rate the race as a tossup.
The NYT/Siena poll looked at various types of likely voters and found Crow led all groups to varying degrees. The turnout was similar to what the pollsters had hoped for in regards to respondents’ demographics. It also noted that the 9 percent of undecided respondents could change their minds in the coming months.
“They are not numerous enough to change the lead in our poll by themselves. But they – and others – could change their minds,” the pollsters wrote.
Aside from the overall race between Coffman and Crow, respondents were also asked a series of questions about immigration and the current political climate—both hot topics in the diverse district.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they disapproved of the job President Trump is doing, while just 37 percent approved. And 54 percent said they preferred Democrats take the House in November, compared to 40 percent who hope Republicans keep hold of it.
Respondents were not in favor of abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, however, which is one position some liberal Democrats have taken in recent months. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they opposed abolishing ICE, while 30 percent they supported doing so.
But the response in regards to other questions about immigration and immigrants were stauncher. Sixty percent said they wouldn’t support a bill that funded a U.S.-Mexico border wall and reduced legal immigration. Seventy-three percent said they disagreed that people living in the U.S. illegally were more likely to commit crimes than citizens. Seventy-six percent said it didn’t bother them when they heard immigrants speaking a foreign language in public and 75 percent said they were not afraid to walk alone at night in their neighborhood.
“Coffman has definitely changed his position over the last 10 years since redistricting on immigration policy – softened it up. Taken on the Trump administration. That reflects as well,” Preuhs said.
Sixty-three percent of respondents said they would support a federal ban on the sale of assault-style firearms and high-capacity magazines—another issue that has roiled Colorado and the district in recent years.
The poll results show that 85 percent of Democrats said they would vote for Crow and 82 percent of Republicans said they would vote for Coffman. But among people who are unaffiliated or registered with a third party, 59 percent said they’d be supporting Crow while 30 percent said they would support Coffman. Twelve percent of people not registered as Democrats or Republicans said they were undecided.
Both campaigns focused more on the other candidate Monday in response to the poll. Crow campaign spokesperson Mitch Schwartz said, “We’re only concerned about one number: Coffman’s 96 percent voting record with Trump.” And Coffman’s campaign director Tyler Sandberg stuck to the line he’s given all year: that pre-election polling hasn’t always meant much to the five-term incumbent.
"If I had dollar for every time an east coast pollster or political analyst said that this was the year Coffman goes down, I’d have as much cash as one of those Pelosi super PACS smearing Coffman every other commercial. Team Coffman is dug in and ready for the fight," he said in a statement.
But Preuhs says neither candidate should take the poll to heart too much.
“I think both candidates probably shouldn’t throw in the towel or start the celebration just yet. It’s going to be a tough race,” Preuhs said. “Within Colorado and that particular district, I think we still have a tossup.”
Denver7's Tom Mustin contributed to this report.