An internal campaign poll for the Democratic commissioner candidate in Douglas County’s District III shows Darien Wilson is closing the gap with the Republican incumbent, Lora Thomas.
Myers Research & Strategic Services conducted the cell phone and landline-based survey between Aug. 30 and Sept. 3 of 350 likely voters. Slightly more than half, 52%, indicated they would vote for Thomas, compared to 42% for Wilson in the poll, which the campaign conducted to craft its messaging. In 2016, Thomas won her race with two-thirds of the vote.
The poll, which had a margin of error of 5.2 percentage points, also showed that 49% of voters supported President Donald Trump, while 48% plan to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden. Four years ago, Trump won the county with 55%, 18 points more than Hillary Clinton.
“The combination of Trump’s collapse of popularity in this county and the Mountain West generally, combined with Thomas’ political attacks on the public health system during a global pandemic, create a dead heat race once contrast messages are introduced,” wrote Lauren Spangler, vice president of Myers Research, in a polling memo for Wilson’s campaign.
Wilson, a software company vice president, has hammered Thomas for the board of county commissioners' decision in July to pursue a new health agency for the jurisdiction and separate from Tri-County Health Department. The board disagreed with the multicounty department’s move to impose a loose face-covering mandate for residents, criticizing the process that led to it. Thomas said afterward that “God is directing” the commissioners’ actions.
The all-Republican board has two seats up for election in November. In addition to Thomas’s seat, based in Highlands Ranch, District II features an open race between Democrat Lisa Neal-Graves and Republican George Teal.
Wilson’s campaign poll also found that when voters heard a “contrast message” between herself and Thomas, the poll showed a 48%-48% tie. The sample demographics were based on a projection of likely voters, according to the memo. Forty-two percent of respondents identified as Republicans, 21% as Democrats, and more than one-third were unaffiliated or registered with a third party. College graduates and those older than 50 made up the majority of the sample.
“As I talk to voters around the county, it doesn’t matter their political party,” Wilson said. “They are angry that Lora Thomas puts politics and ideology over science, data and facts."
Thomas's campaign responded that Wilson "is engaging in a desperate attempt to discredit my work as County Commissioner by claiming that I have attacked our public health system. The truth is that I have coordinated with Tri-County Health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic," adding that she hoped a county-run health department would better serve residents.
"While she claims to care about science, data and facts, Darien is running a campaign that ignores the facts on the ground in Douglas County and releases questionable polling data that is not transparent and displays nothing about how the survey was weighted to reflect likely voters in Douglas County," the statement continued. "Douglas County deserves better."
Editor's note: The original version of this story misstated the pre-messaging percentage for Wilson, which is 42%. Further updates include a rephrasing of the headline and the inclusion of a statement from Thomas.