University jumps into politics

CMU collaborates on its first poll, shows Clinton leading in Colorado

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for president, leads her Republican rival, Donald Trump, by 9 percentage points in Colorado, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

The poll of 540 registered Colorado voters, the first ever done by Colorado Mesa University, with Rocky Mountain PBS, also showed that Trump’s unfavorability rating of 38 percent among Colorado voters is nearly as high as Clinton’s favorability rating of 40 percent.

The poll also shows U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., with a double-digit lead over Republican Darryl Glenn, with 45 percent to 32 percent among registered voters.

It is the first poll done by a newly created Social Research Center at CMU, which is being formed in cooperation with the Pennsylvania-based Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College.

“I think the ballot issues are particularly interesting here,” said Justin Gollob, a CMU political science professor who is heading up the new center. “We don’t think there has been any real polling on them.”

The poll surveyed four of the nine measures that will be on the November ballot. In it, the survey shows that Proposition 106 to create a medical-aid-in-dying law in Colorado is winning with 70 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, the poll shows Amendment 70, the measure to increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 by 2020, with 58 percent support, while Amendment 71, to make it harder to amendment the Colorado Constitution, is squeaking by with 52 percent of those polled.

The only measure that was losing was Amendment 69, which would create a statewide universal health care system in the state. There, 56 percent of respondents said they opposed the idea.

Gollob said he was particularly surprised to see so many voters — 30 percent — say they did not know much about Amendment 71, which would require petitions for a proposed constitutional change to get a portion of their signatures from each of the state’s 35 Senate districts to qualify for the ballot.

“That’s a pretty big chunk that both proponents and opponents could try and use to their advantage,” he said. “A lot of people haven’t heard about Amendment 71. On Amendment 69, the word’s out there and people are hearing the words, but they’re not taking it.”

The poll was conducted by telephone and online interviews between Sept. 14-18. It included 172 Democrats, 174 Republicans and 154 unaffiliated voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.1 percent.

For the presidential race, the poll shows that Clinton holds a four-point advantage over Trump with male voters and a nine percentage-point lead with females. While the number of Democrats who favor Clinton and Republicans Trump were about the same, with about three-quarters of them favoring their party’s candidate, the split among unaffiliated voters went strongly for Clinton.

There, Clinton held 34 percent of unaffiliated voters to Trump’s 12 percent, with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson earning 26 percent.

In the Senate race, the poll shows that while Bennet leads Glenn by 13 points in a head-to-head contest, his lead diminishes by only 2 percentage points when third-party candidates are included. The poll shows Bennet leading among most demographic and geographic groups.

Gollob said that while this inaugural poll focused on statewide races, that isn’t necessarily the point of CMU’s new center.

He said future surveys will focus more on issues rather than political races, and then those of the greatest importance to Western Slope residents.

“The plan behind the center has been and will continue to be student-centered,” he said. “We want a regional focus with a statewide impact. It’s going to hone in on western Colorado and look at social, economic, political issues ... to try to build longitudinal data so we can track changes in western Colorado.”

CMU President Tim Foster said the new center not only will give students who are involved in research and political science some practical experience, it also will provide a benefit to policy makers in the region when they make decisions in Congress and the statehouse.

“As we looked out across the state, we realized that no other college or university is engaged in meaningful opinion research,” Foster said. “When we approached Rocky Mountain PBS with the idea, they quickly agreed to partner with us to fill this need while giving our faculty and students an opportunity to engage in relevant, practical research.”

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