Our first look at the Colorado Senate race since last summer finds that Jane Norton's entry into the race has not helped Republican chances of defeating Michael Bennet- and may have even hurt their prospects. Bennet and Norton tie at 43% apiece. Bennet trailed Bob Beauprez 42-39 in August before Beauprez decided not to make the race.
Bennet continues to be pretty unpopular- but Norton is too. Bennet's approval rating is 32% with 46% of voters unhappy with his job performance. 25% of voters have a favorable opinion of Norton with 35% viewing her negatively.
In their head to head match Norton leads Bennet 44-35 with independents, but Bennet ties it overall because he has his party more unified around him (79% support) than Norton does hers (77% support.)
Andrew Romanoff actually leads Norton 44-39, reflecting other recent polling that has shown him doing better in general election matches than Bennet. I would be cautious about declaring Romanoff to be the more electable candidate based on these early numbers though. Bennet has had all the negatives of incumbency- being associated with an unpopular majority party during a recession- without the positives- defining himself positively to the voters on the airwaves in the context of a statewide campaign. If Romanoff is still doing better than Bennet four or five months from now once the voters have started really paying attention the electability argument might carry more heft.
Bennet and Romanoff both hold solid advantages over the lesser known Republican candidates. Bennet leads Ken Buck 46-40 and Romanoff leads him 44-36. Bennet has a 45-37 advantage over Tom Wiens and for Romanoff it's 45-34.
All three times we've looked at this race over the last year it's come out very close, and I think the Colorado Senate race will prove to be one of the most competitive in the country this year. Neither Bennet nor Norton has made the best first impression on voters in the state and it will be interesting to see if they can turn it around- or if a Romanoff or Buck could pull off an upset in the primary. We'll have numbers looking at that on Monday.
Full results here