Walker Stapleton leads in Republican gubernatorial primary polling in Colorado's CD5

But more than one-third of respondents undecided
Posted at 12:54 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 16:08:19-04

DENVER – A new Magellan Strategies poll released Wednesday shows that Walker Stapleton leads the Republican gubernatorial field among likely primary voters in one of the more conservative areas of the state, but also shows that there are many undecided voters the candidates need to win over in the next five weeks.

The survey was conducted May 20 and 21 and asked 519 voters from Colorado’s 5th congressional district who are likely to participate in the June 26 primary which Republican gubernatorial candidate they’d vote for if the election were being held that day.

Colorado's 5th congressional district (CD5) covers some of the more conservative areas of the state, including the Colorado Springs area and its suburbs, and has always been held by a Republican. Magellan Strategies also says that the district's voters have traditionally contributed about 20 percent of the Republican primary vote for governor.

The gubernatorial poll was tucked into a wider survey about the Republican candidates vying for the CD5 seat but is the first look at polling data for the governor’s race since the field was narrowed down in April and since Magellan released a statewide poll done in late February.

Stapleton led the survey, with 32 percent of respondents saying they’d support him in the primary. Victor Mitchell came in second at 18 percent, while 8 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Doug Robinson or Greg Lopez, respectively.

Still, 34 percent of those polled said they were undecided for whom they’d vote in the primary just five weeks before the contest, and with ballots set to be mailed to voters statewide in less than two weeks.

Some of the demographic data in the poll provides some insight into which voters are still on the fence. Magellan researcher David Flaherty and project director Courtney Sievers said the demographics of the people polled were based on turnout demographics for prior primaries in the district.

Eighty-four percent of respondents were registered Republicans, while the rest were unaffiliated. Seventy percent were over age 55, and 87 percent were over age 45. Thirty-seven percent identified as “Trump Republicans,” while 21 percent said they were “traditional Republicans” and 21 percent identified as evangelical or Christian Republicans. Sixteen percent of those surveyed said they weren’t sure.

And when it came to the gubernatorial candidates, women were far less likely to have decided on a candidate among a field with four men and no women. While just 24 percent of men who respondent to the survey said they were undecided on a candidate, 43 percent of women said they were unsure.

Voters in the 18-34 age group who were polled gravitated more strongly toward Robinson, who led the poll among that age group with 24 percent saying they’d support him. Greg Lopez was younger voters’ second choice, at 22 percent.

And the poll shows that support for Mitchell grows as respondents got older in age: just 6 percent of respondents in the 18-34 age group said they’d support the businessman, but that share grew with each age group. Twenty-one percent of respondents aged 65+ said they’d support Mitchell, second to the 35 percent of that group that picked Stapleton.

Stapleton – who has increasingly aligned himself with President Trump in recent weeks, including the president in his recent campaign ad – is getting the support of the self-professed “Trump Republicans” too, according to the poll, which shows that 43 percent of that group said they preferred Stapleton to other candidates.

And while the poll further signifies Republican voters’ support for Stapleton, his opponents have attacked him over his involvement in the PERA deal, a messy appearance on Fox News and his TV ad, which contained several inaccuracies or exaggerations.

But he has continued to bring in some money through fundraising and also still had more than $500,000 in the bank this week – a figure that towers over his Republican counterparts, who all have less than $100,000 in cash on hand.

"In our view, the emergence of Victor Mitchell as the primary challenger to Walker Stapleton is obviously the biggest finding," Magellan said in its release -- but with a caveat. "While this sample, and the ballot test results could be representative of statewide Republican primary voter opinion, we want to be clear that it is not. We stress to everyone reading this survey summary to keep that in mind.

The margin of error for the poll was +/- 4.3 percent at the 95 percent confidence interval.