One of the nation’s most-watched U.S. Senate races is headed for a photo finish, as the final Denver Post poll in the 2014 election shows Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and Republican rival Cory Gardner are essentially tied.
A poll conducted this week shows Gardner at 46 percent and Udall at 44 percent — a narrow edge within the four-percentage-point margin-of-error. The poll surveyed those who are likely to vote and those who returned ballots in Colorado’s first all-mail election.
Another 5 percent support a third-party candidate and 5 percent remain undecided, according to the SurveyUSA poll conducted Monday through Wednesday.
A breakdown of the final poll numbers offers promise to Republicans and Democrats.
For Gardner’s camp, the poll shows a slightly larger three-point lead among those who said they already voted, a reflection of early Republican energy surrounding the election.
A look at the demographics in the poll shows Gardner holds a lead among voters aged 35 to 49 as well as seniors. He also leads self-identified independent voters by seven points, a key indicator in the state where one-third of the voters are registered as unaffiliated.
On the Democratic side, the numbers indicate the party is well-positioned to overcome Gardner’s slight edge.
The poll shows Udall’s advantage among Latino voters is only three points and only six points among women. Based on past elections, Democrats expect both margins to grow significantly.
In 2010 and 2012, for instance, more than 80 percent of Latino voters supported the Democratic candidates. And Udall is targeting women voters by highlighting Gardner’s past support for Colorado personhood initiatives and his current endorsement of a similar federal measure that could ban some forms of birth control.
Outside the poll, the campaigns are closely monitoring the incoming ballots.
At this point, the Republican advantage in the Senate race is likely far better than the poll suggests. Based on the party registration of the roughly 1 million ballots cast so far, registered Republicans hold a nine-point advantage compared to Democrats.
Democratic voters typically wait longer to return their ballots, meaning who votes in the next five days will likely decide the election.
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