Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bennet standing a little shaky

Almost four months after being appointed to replace Ken Salazar in the US Senate, Michael Bennet still has a lot of work to do to appeal to Colorado voters in advance of seeking reelection next year.

41% of voters say they disapprove of Bennet's performance so far, with just 34% saying they approve. He has more Democrats (16%) who disapprove than there are Republicans (11%) who express support for his work. He also has negative numbers (32/43) with independents.

It appears one of Bennet's problems may be residual unhappiness from Hispanic voters that he was appointed to replace Ken Salazar instead of another Latino. His approval with them is 36/45, compared to 58/36 for Barack Obama in the state. That's a 31 point disparity in the margin for the two politicians of the same party.

The good news for Bennet is that none of his most likely opponents are particularly well known or well liked either. Ryan Frazier, Ken Buck, and Josh Penry all have net negative favorability and are unknown to at least 50% of voters in the state. The only one with significant statewide name recognition is Bob Beauprez, and his favorability numbers are pretty dismal at 33/43.

Bennet leads three of the four in hypothetical contests, 39-35 over Frazier, 40-34 over Buck, and 41-34 over Penry. Beauprez leads him 43-42.

Bennet hasn't had the opportunity yet to define himself positively to the voters in a campaign the way most Senators have, and these numbers seem like they will inevitably improve. Nonetheless it is clear that his reelection is by no means a certainty, and given that it is somewhat surprising that no higher tier Republican candidates have entered the race. This has to be considered one of the better opportunities for a GOP pickup next year.

Full results here.

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