Rasmussen Reports, a GOP-leaning polling outfit, and one with a rather strong record of accuracy in these things, has released its February numbers for the Governor’s race here.
The surprise isn’t so much that Bill Ritter, who’s essentially a mortal lock to win the nomination for the Democrats, is leading both “Both Ways” Bob Beauprez and Marc Holtzman in the race.
No, it gets better. According to Rasmussen, Gary Lindstrom–yes, that Gary Lindstrom–is within the margin of error in both heats against either Republican!
It’s one thing to trail Ritter. But when you’re either tied or losing to a man who’s essentially running a non-campaign campaign, you know the bell’s ringing for you.
Numbers, more comments after the jump. The key thing to take away from this poll, and what makes it significant, is that Rasmussen is interviewing likely voters, not registered voters. Most polling firms, at this juncture, interview registered voters, saving the likely voters for later. This means Rasmussen’s polls are a bit more accurate at this point in time.
Rasmussen Reports Poll for CO Governor’s Race
Survey of 500 likely voters, 22 February 2006.
Bill Ritter 40%
Bob Beauprez 33%
Bill Ritter 41%
Marc Holtzman 28%
Gary Lindstrom 36%
Bob Beauprez 37%
Gary Lindstrom 35%
Marc Holtzman 33%
margin of error: + or – 4.5% with a 95% degree of confidence
Not having access to the crosstabs, I don’t know how the support breaks down by region here in Colorado. According to the report, every matchup (including Ritter vs. Holtzman) still has 20% or more of the respondents undecided, so the race could certainly narrow down considerably–and probably will.
Furthermore, when it comes to the all-important “favorable vs. unfavorable vs. unsure” question, the only full set of numbers in the report belong to Bill Ritter:
61% don’t know enough about Lindstrom to feel one way or another about him, while 54% are unsure of Holtzman. Numbers weren’t available for Beauprez.
What does this mean? Simply that the race is wide, wide open. Lindstrom’s “unsure” number is likely a reflection of his unwillingness or inability to campaign for Governor.
Moreover, there’s both peril and promise in these numbers. Promise, in that–at least in Holtzman’s case–we can define him as a radical extremist, bent on legislating and enacting the kind of ignorant and benighted ideas that went out of fashion during the Spanish Inquisition.
Peril, in that Ritter–apart from the pro-choice/anti-choice morass he’s insisted in wallowing in since the beginning–has stubbornly refused to define himself, except in the most banal and uninspiring ways. His self-messaging, or lack thereof, is material for another post, but let me make one quick example.
When you get down to it, an anti-choice position can be reconciled with traditional Democratic values in one way: by tying it to our historical desire to help the helpless and give voice to the voiceless. Provided that his anti-choice position is informed by his Catholic faith (which I’m given to understand it is) and provided that he also, at least broadly, opposes capital punishment (which I do not know for sure), such an appeal can at the very least neutralize opposition, and indeed even galvanize support–by casting him as a straight-shooter, no matter the cost or consequence.
He has not done that, and that gives me great pause. Ritter and his campaign cannot afford to wait for the fall to define themselves, let alone their opponent, Dukakis-style. He must strike now, and strike lethally. The opportunity to turn this lead into a rout is there for the taking. Will he take it? I don’t know, and that concerns me greatly.
One final note, before I close this over-long diary: as in the nation at large, Democrats lead the President on Iraq. This is HUGE–a Republican Party deprived of its natural advantage on national security is like a uniformed army without weapons. Will we hold on to this advantage? I don’t know–but the President’s recent actions don’t help his party any.
crossposted at SoapBlox Colorado