So when we polled Colorado two weeks ago I was planning to test Andrew Romanoff as a primary challenger to Michael Bennet just to see how it would shake out, but several folks from the state told me there was no way that was going to happen so I skipped it.
I'm sure they were right at the time, but lo and behold the Denver Post reports this morning that he's going to get in. Sure wish we had that data right now! It's a good reminder that never rarely really means never in politics.
Anyway, Bennet's overall numbers obviously were not good on our survey last week, but how susceptible is he to a primary challenge?
His approval rating with Democrats on the poll was 57%, which is pretty weak. But I think the more significant number in this context is his disapproval rating among party voters, which was only 12% on the poll. That's a pretty significant indication that while Bennet may not be Mr. Popularity yet, there also isn't a huge group of voters in his party dying to nominate somebody else. Combine that with Bennet's solid fundraising tally and you have a pretty uphill battle for Romanoff, although it's not impossible.
I am not of the mind that contested primaries are necessarily a bad thing- going back through the last couple election cycles I think Kay Hagan, Jeff Merkley, Jim Webb, and Jon Tester all benefited to some extent as first time statewide candidates by having to put themselves before the voters earlier in the year- it helped to build up name recognition and base enthusiasm for their candidacies and served as a good test run for the general. If this challenge really does play out in Colorado it may make the winner a stronger and tougher candidate in the fall.