President Donald Trump remains wildly popular among Colorado Republican voters, and they overwhelmingly believe immigration is the most important issue facing them, a new survey conducted by a GOP polling firm finds.
And by a wide margin, Republicans in Colorado prefer uncompromising conservative candidates to moderates who are willing to work with Democrats to get thing done, according to the survey made available in advance to Colorado Politics.
And yet, 60 percent of Republicans surveyed said they support “red flag” legislation to enable law enforcement to take guns away from people deemed a threat to themselves or others -- a proposal that was blocked by GOP lawmakers in the Colorado legislature's 2018 session.
A new Magellan Strategies poll shows Trump has a 90 percent job approval rating among registered Republicans in Colorado, with 72 percent saying they strongly approve.
Just 9 percent of Republican voters surveyed said they disapprove of the job Trump is doing.
Similarly wide margins said they support building a wall along the southern border with Mexico and back the president’s decision to shut down the government to get funding for the wall.
Eighty-seven percent of Republicans think Trump’s policies are making the economy better.
What’s more, the poll found, 78 percent of Republicans say they want Trump to be the party’s presidential nominee in 2020, while only 17 percent say they would prefer another candidate.
“It’s all Trump. They love Trump,” said pollster Ryan Winger, director of data analysis for the Louisville-based firm. “Call it partisan, call it tribal — they support the president.”
The telephone poll of 622 Republican voters was conducted Jan. 30-Feb. 4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.93 percent.
The results differ sharply from a poll Magellan conducted among Colorado’s unaffiliated voters in the days after the November election, when Republicans suffered historic defeats up and down the ballot — including losing every statewide race and control of both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time since the 1930s.
That survey found that unaffiliated voters — who outnumber Colorado’s registered Democrats and Republicans — were three times more likely to vote against Republican candidates because of Trump than they were to support Republicans.
In addition, the unaffiliated voters by a 2-to-1 margin said they typically support Democrats over Republicans.
In the new poll, Republicans appeared to reject any course correction following the GOP's 2018 drubbing in Colorado, widely seen as a sign of non-GOP voters' dislike of Trump, and instead said the party should emphasize what they consider the president's successes.
Asked by polltakers to describe what Republicans should do to be more successful in next year’s election, respondents suggested candidates should “actually stick to their guns, in both a literal and theoretical sense.”
“I think they should talk about all the accomplishments that Donald Trump has done for our nation,” a suburban woman told the survey. “He is awesome. They need to stand [with] him for what he has done for the people of the United States.”
Said a man who lives in the suburbs: “Get some new candidates that have some guts and stand up for conservative values everywhere, all over the state of Colorado.”
“What we see in these survey results is there’s just overwhelming support for Trump among Republicans,” Winger said. “The idea that the way to move forward is to double down on his personality and his issues, without any regard for the fact he did not win Colorado.
"They basically think he was able to win the presidency, so he must know something about winning. It’s that basic.”
While the Republicans who responded to the poll had plenty of theories to explain their losses in November, the most common reason appeared to be widespread voting by new residents — from California and other bastions of liberalism — as well as a suspicion that immigrants in the country illegally and voting fraudulently are responsible for Democratic wins in Colorado.
“Every available set of information and facts out there tells you it doesn’t happen, and voter fraud is basically nonexistent,” Winger said. “The system of elections in Colorado is consistently ranked the best in the country. I don’t know how you dislodge that in people’s minds.”
He added that the notion that illegal immigrants are behind Republican losses at the ballot box dovetails with another assumption the pollsters heard from the Republican voters, that the media are somehow suppressing the real story.
“It’s this idea that because they love Trump, the only reason [he] and his agenda wouldn’t be popular is if a bunch of illegal people are voting, and the people aren’t hearing the truth about Trump and his policies. When they see a survey that says Trump is not popular, they just don’t believe it.”
The new survey found that 44 percent of Republicans think immigration should be the top priority for the state to address, with every other topic — including the economy, transportation and health care — polling far behind.
Sixty-two percent of Republicans oppose efforts by Gov. Jared Polis and his fellow Democrats in the Legislature to establish funding for full-day kindergarten, while 34 percent support it.
Winger said the new poll’s results put the GOP squarely at odds with the state’s electorate.
“Dislike of President Trump was a big reason why Republicans got swept out of the statewide offices in November,” Winger said. “When Republicans say the problem is our guys weren’t enough like Trump, there’s a complete disconnect there between what they’re thinking and what other voters in Colorado are thinking.”
Trump lost Colorado in 2016 to Democrat Hillary Clinton by 5 percentage points, and other recent polling has found the president is deeply unpopular among the state’s non-Republican voters, who make up roughly two-thirds of the electorate.
A January survey taken by Democratic firms Keating Research and OnSight Public Affairs showed 39 percent of voters hold a favorable view of what Trump is doing, while 60 percent view the president unfavorably.
Magellan’s survey of unaffiliated voters in November found Trump doing even worse among that group, with David Flaherty, the firm’s founder, describing Trump’s approval rating among the crucial unaffiliated bloc as “toxic.”
In the November survey, 31 percent of unaffiliated voters approved of Trump’s performance, and 62 percent disapproved. Asked whether they would support Trump or an unnamed Democratic candidate for president in 2020, 55 percent of the unaffiliated voters picked the Democrat, and 23 percent opted for Trump.
The results of the new survey of Republicans paint a different picture, Winger noted.
“The way to win a Republican primary is to basically hug the president and be the most Trump-like candidate,” he said.
“We know in a general election in Colorado, in a swing district or statewide, that’s not going to be a recipe for success. But a survey like this tells you what Republican voters want. They don’t want to tack to the middle; they believe a winning strategy is to double down on the president and his policies," Winger said.
"Our unaffiliated survey seems to suggest that is not a recipe for success but in fact will lead to more losses in those districts where Republican could still be competitive.”