A plurality of Colorado voters still don't know enough about Michael Bennet to have an opinion of him. But among those who do, he's doing alright.
PPP's newest survey finds 33% of Coloradans view Bennet favorably, with 21% holding a negative view. 45% aren't sure.
Very few Democrats actually seem to be unhappy with the Bennet appointment, an indication that he may not be particularly susceptible to a primary challenge next year. Only 7% of folks within his party have an unfavorable opinion of him, with 55% looking on him positively. Even with 38% unsure, an 8:1 favorability ratio with your base tends to preclude a lot of internal danger. He also gets good marks from independents, with 34% having a positive opinion of him to just 14% who don't.
Bennet's primary focus over the next two years should come with two groups of voters: Hispanics and those outside the Denver metro area. 58% of Hispanics are ambivalent toward Bennet at this point, a higher percentage than in any other group and an indication he may need to prove he can represent them as well as Ken Salazar did. Similarly, while Bennet has a 40:21 favorability rating in metro Denver, he's still a blank slate to 54% of voters in the rest of the state. If he can improve his standing within those two demographics he'll be in good shape for reelection.
PPP tested Bennet against four potential 2010 opponents. Two of them, John Suthers and Scott McInnis, made the poll obsolete yesterday by announcing they will not be candidates next year. Bennet led Suthers 40-34 and McInnis 43-37.
In the other hypothetical matches Bennet leads Tom Tancredo 48-39 and trails former Governor Bill Owens 44-41. Still, even the Owens showing seems pretty strong for Bennet given that most voters in the state had never heard of him five weeks ago. That close match against Owens comes even as Bennet leads the Hispanic vote just 45-40 at this very early stage, a performance Bennet would likely exceed by a good deal given how that vote broke down in the 2008 election cycle in the state.
The bottom line? Bennet has a lot of work to do to introduce himself to the voters of the state. But overall the state's blueward trend makes it appear he is in a strong position for reelection, and the GOP will really have to recruit a top tier challenger to knock him off.
Full results here.