Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ritter in a tough position

Only 40% of Colorado voters approve of the job Bill Ritter is doing as Governor and he trails Scott McInnis by eight points in a potential match up.

The good news for Ritter is that despite a tough budget cycle his approval rating hasn't really changed since PPP surveyed the state in April. At that time his approval was 41% with 49% of voters disapproving of him. Now the spread is 40/45.

Ritter has actually seen slight improvement in his reviews from Republicans and independents over that time. With GOP voters he's at 18/69 now, compared to 15/76 then and with independents it's 41/45 compared to 40/52.

Where he's dropped is with Democrats. What was a 70% approval rating is now a 64% approval rating with his base.

That's bad news not just for Ritter but also for Michael Bennet, Betsy Markey, and other Colorado Democrats who have to run next year. In a midterm election it's the Gubernatorial race that generates turnout and a lack of enthusiasm for Ritter among Democratic voters could lead them to just stay home.

In possible contests against Scott McInnis and Josh Penry Ritter trails 46-38 and is knotted up at 40 respectively. Those numbers are probably more a reflection on the incumbent than the GOP challengers, as each of them is mostly unknown to Colorado voters. 45% have no opinion about McInnis, with 30% holding a positive one of him and 25% seeing him unfavorably. Penry is even less well known, with 57% ambivalent toward him while 23% see him favorably and 20% have a negative opinion.

How is McInnis leading Ritter? Again it's largely a reflection of party unity. While only 69% of Democrats say they'll vote for Ritter, 79% of Republicans says they'll vote for McInnis.

There continues to be evidence that the Bennet appointment hurt Ritter with Hispanic voters. While Barack Obama had a 69% approval rating with them in this survey, Ritter's is just 46% and in the head to head with McInnis they're tied at 38 with that demographic. He's going to have to continue to mend fences in that key Democratic constituency to get reelected next year.

He doesn't have to stand before the voters for more than 14 months and a lot could change before then, but at this point Ritter has some work to do if he wants a second term.

Full results here

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