Caraveo Kirkmeyer

State Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, left, and state Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer,, R-Brighton, discuss their bids to represent Colorado's 8th Congressional District on Sept. 23, 2022, at their respective campaign headquarters in Thornton.

The race to represent Colorado's new 8th Congressional District is in a statistical dead heat as voting begins, an internal poll conducted by the Democratic candidate shows.

A telephone survey conducted Oct. 11-16 of 600 likely voters in the district by national Democratic firm Global Strategy Group for state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, the Democratic nominee, showed her trailing Republican state Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer by 2 points, 46% to 44%, within the poll's 4 percentage point margin of error. Another 12% were undecided.

While the campaign declined to release full cross-tabs for the poll, showing how various groups of voters answered questions, results made available to Colorado Politics showed Caraveo leading 53%-39% in Adams County, with Kirkmeyer ahead among voters in Weld and Larimer counties, 56% to 39%.

Caraveo leads Kirkmeyer 48%-42% with unaffiliated voters, the poll shows, though the divide between male and female unaffiliated voters appears to be wide. Caraveo leads with unaffiliated women 54%-34%, with 12% undecided, while Kirkmeyer leads with unaffiliated men 50%-43%, with just 7% undecided.

More than one-third of all voters in the district aren't locked into supporting either candidate, the poll found, making the race "highly competitive and fluid," pollster Andrew Baumann told Colorado Politics.

Caraveo's campaign manager Elana Schrager said the polling shows the Democrat "has the winning momentum" with less than three weeks remaining until ballots are due on Nov. 8. Election officials began mailing ballots to most Colorado voters on Monday.

Using an algorithm developed by the polling firm to predict which way undecided voters will come down and how many soft supporters might switch allegiance to the other candidate before they fill out their ballots, the poll determined that Caraveo holds a 1-point edge, 47%-46%, counting what Baumann termed "late movers."

The poll found that registered Democrats in the district are slightly more motivated to vote than registered Republicans, using poll respondents' self-description of their enthusiasm, Baumann said.

The results of the new poll echo the candidates' standing in an internal poll by the same firm released in August by the Caraveo campaign. That poll also showed Kirkmeyer up by 2 points, 44% to 42% with 15% undecided, using rounded numbers provided by the campaign. An earlier poll conducted in June by Global Strategy Group for Caraveo showed Kirkmeyer leading by 8 points with 20% undecided.

The election and polling data crunchers at FiveThirtyEight give Global Strategy Group a B/C rating.

On Wednesday, the firm released a separate Colorado poll that showed Democratic statewide candidates leading their Republican challengers by wide margins, saying the poll's data suggests a favorable general election environment for Democrats in the state.

The open seat — created ahead of this year's election after Colorado gained a congressional district during the once-a-decade reapportionment process — includes portions of Adams, Weld and Larimer counties north of the Denver metro area, from Thornton and Commerce City to Greeley. Democrats make up 27% of its active, registered voters, with Republicans at 24% and unaffiliated voters accounting for 46%.

The district's voters have favored Democratic candidates by a slim 1.3 points in recent elections, according to an analysis by the independent commission that drew its boundaries, though they've swung across the political divide — favoring Donald Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020.

The new poll's release comes on the heels of national election forecaster Sabato's Crystal Ball moving the race from "lean Republican" to "toss-up" status, saying its earlier ranking might have "been a bit too bullish on Republicans" in the district, which Biden carried two years ago by 4.5 points.

"This is the kind of swing seat that an opposition party should be able to flip in a midterm, but it remains close and competitive with heavy and bipartisan outside spending," wrote Sabato's Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman.

Nonpartisan election forecasters at Politico, The Hill, Cook Political Report and Roll Call also rate the district a toss-up.

FiveThirtyEight classifies the seat as "lean Republican" and call Kirkmeyer "slightly" favored to win, with two-thirds of the site's election simulations ending with a Kirkmeyer victory and one-third of the simulations tilting toward Caraveo.

Kirkmeyer leads on FiveThirtyEight's popular vote forecast by about 3 points, 49.5% to 46.3%, with a 4.1% share predicted for Libertarian candidate Richard Ward, whose name wasn't included as an option in the internal Caraveo poll released Wednesday.

Billed since its creation last year during the redistricting process as potentially one of the most competitive U.S. House districts in the country, the race ranks seventh nationally in total outside spending, with more than $9.5 million sunk into the district by party committees and aligned groups, according to campaign finance filings compiled on Oct. 18 by election data cruncher Rob Pyers.

Republican groups have so far outspent Democratic groups by more than $2.8 million in the race, with more spending reported on a near-daily basis. The candidates, party committees and independent expenditure groups have announced more than $15 million in ad reservations through Election Day.

TV viewers across the metro area have been inundated since Labor Day by ads attacking both nominees, with the Republican-funded ads taking aim at Caraveo's budget and energy policies and the Democrats' ads featuring the former county commissioner's firm opposition to abortion.

Baumann said despite heavier spending on the GOP side, the negative barrage against Kirkmeyer appears to be taking more of a toll than the attacks on Caraveo.

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