A new Rasmussen Reports poll of the Colorado U.S. Senate race shows Democrat Mark Udall with a 6-point lead over Republican Bob Schaffer -- the first time a Rasmussen poll has shown either candidate with a lead outside the margin of error.The first credible outside-the-margin separation favors Udall, though the favorability/unfavorability of each is staying fairly close:
The poll of 500 likely Colorado voters, taken on May 19, showed Udall leading Schaffer 47 percent to 41 percent. The margin of error was +/- 4.5 percentage points.
In April, Udall had a statistically insignificant 3-point lead; March's poll showed Schaffer up by a single percentage point.
In the past two months, Schaffer's overall ratings have dropped: his overall favorable rating in May of 44 percent is down 3 percentage points since April and 9 percentage points since March. His overall unfavorable rating, meanwhile, has increased 7 percentage points - from 32 percent in March to 39 percent in May.
Udall's overall favorable rating for May was 50 percent -- up two percentage points from April, but down two points from his March favorable rating. The Democrat had a May unfavorable rating of 35 percent, compared to 37 percent in April and 34 percent in March.
With the exception of the "very favorable" category where Udall holds a fairly large lead, the candidates are almost identical, and both still have double-digit responses for "not sure."
When asked if the Schaffer/Abramoff alleged scandal had given the voter cause for concern, here were the results:
"How concerned are you about the alleged relationship between Bob Schaffer and Jack Abramoff?"There is certainly traction for the story, but it is difficult to discern whether that concern comes from those voters likely or undecided to vote for Schaffer in the first place. A story with resonance only among Udall's supporters won't do much more than galvanize his base, and not result in vote switching or undervoting behavior. Bet on the Udall camp and his surrogates to push this story again and again this summer and fall.
19% Very concerned
18% Somewhat concerned
24% Not very concerned
17% Not at all concerned
23% Not sure
Takeaways--it is clear that Udall has broken the margin of error stalemate, which would be assumed given the widespread consensus that this is a toss-up seat leaning in Udall's favor in the media and the punditry. Anything less would be quite a disappointment for the Dems.
But it is still May and the Democrats' battle over their Presidential nominee has still not been concluded. Udall has yet to declare how he would vote as a superdelegate, nor given any indication as to what terms he would debate Schaffer this summer. And finally, the Democratic National Convention in Denver could prove to be a showcase or a debacle for Udall and the Dems, helping or hurting the candidate. With all this to consider, it is still a long road to November for Udall.
SvU's updated tracking poll and trendlines (click to enlarge):