In a pair of NBC/Marist polls released Tuesday, Democrats are ahead in the Senate races in Michigan and Colorado. Both Democratic candidates hold leads beyond the polls’ margins of error, providing a welcome bit of good news to Democrats ahead of the midterm elections in November. In both states, President Obama’s approval rating sits at 40%. This suggests that the President’s relatively low approval rating is not creating a drag on either candidate. Drilling down further into the polls, we can see that key issues might be the driving force for the Democrats’ leads.
In Colorado, incumbent Senator Mark Udall holds a 7-point lead over Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), 48% – 41%. The poll also shows that incumbent Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper leads his Republican challenger by six points, 49% – 43%. Interestingly, the poll actually included more registered Republican voters than Democratic voters as 32% of respondents are registered Democrats, 37% are Republicans and 30% are independents. Udall has a net positive favorability rating with voters; 42% hold a favorable view of the Senator while 36% see him in a negative light.
It regards certain hot political issues that Udall appears to have an advantage over Gardner. A whopping 70% of voters say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports restrictions on the access to contraception. Meanwhile, 67% state they are less likely to vote for a candidate that wants to make it harder to obtain an abortion. Gardner spoke favorably of the Hobby Lobby decision. As recently as last year, he pushed for a ‘personhood’ amendment. He has since switched his stance due to political opportunism. However, he still remains very strictly pro-life. On the flip-side, Udall has co-sponsored a Senate bill that will reverse the actions of the Hobby Lobby decision.
Over in Michigan, Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) leads Republican candidate Terri Lynn Land by six points, 43% – 37%. This is pretty much in line with other polls that have been conducted for this race over the past few months. Unlike Colorado, there are still a lot of fence-sitters, as 19% are still undecided. This race is for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Senator Carl Levin. Also of interest in this poll, incumbent Republican Governor Rick Snyder is clinging to a slim 2-point lead against Democratic challenger Mark Schauer.
In this poll, a plurality of the voters polled (45%) are independents to go along with 30% Democrats and 23% Republicans. Both candidates show a slight net positive in favorability with voters. At the same time, both have work to do in terms of increasing their profile. 46% of voters have either never heard of Peters or have no opinion of him; 40% feel the same way about Land.
When it comes to two big issues, voters are basically split down the middle. Regarding the notion of climate change, 45% of voters said they’d favor proposals to reduce greenhouse gases even if it leads to higher utility bills. As for comprehensive immigration reform, 47% expressed approval for a law that would provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who came here illegally. Peters supports immigration reform as well as the regulation of greenhouse gases.