Election news is a bit premature

With more than 14 months to go until next year’s gubernatorial election, we suspect most readers aren’t yet in a frenzy, waiting to see what the latest poll numbers or political punditry indicate about the race.

Still, those polls and prose are of more than passing interest to some, even if they can in no way predict what will actually occur come November 2010. They are especially interesting to political insiders and campaign financiers, who will be looking at them as they forge battle plans to sell their candidates to voters and political donors.

Former 3rd District Congressman Scott McInnis has a 46 percent–38 percent lead over incumbent Gov. Bill Ritter right now, according to numbers released last week by Public Policy Polling. Not a bad selling point for McInnis loyalists trying to raise funds and win support for their man in next year’s primary election battle.

But state Sen. Josh Penry, McInnis’ leading contender for the GOP nomination, has been dubbed one of a handful of “young turks” nationwide who may help lead the Republicans out of the minority-party wilderness. So says the Christian Science Monitor. That article may not attract a lot of readers among average Colorado voters, but it’s something the Penry people will surely have in hand when they’re out soliciting donations and support from potential primary election voters.

Ritter, meanwhile, can point to the fact his poll position has held steady since April, despite the awful economy and state budget problems. And he can use the poll numbers and magazine piece to tell Democrats, who overwhelmingly support him, that he may need them to work harder — and contribute more money — to help him fend off a challenge from either of the leading Republicans.

One thing none of the candidates can do, however, is claim they have an inside track to win the governor’s race. Polls such as the one released last week are just a snapshot of how voters view candidates at one brief moment in time. Much can change between now and the election. Candidates will do and say things that draw voters to them or push them away.

National events, such as congressional action on health care, will have an impact on the Colorado election.

And, as Bill Clinton famously said, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

The state of the economy, nationally and in Colorado next autumn, may have more influence on the outcome of next year’s election than any other single factor.


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