Tipton leads Mitsch Bush in Colorado's 3rd CD, bipartisan poll shows


Republican Scott Tipton, the incumbent in Colorado’s sprawling 3rd Congressional District, has a 5 percentage point lead over Democratic challenger Diane Mitsch Bush days before election day, a bipartisan polling team said Saturday.

The live interview poll of 500 likely voters in the district, which includes about half the state and stretches from Grand Junction to Pueblo, comes from Louisiana-based Republican-friendly firm JMC Analytics and Polling and Washington, D.C.-based Democratic-aligned firm Bold Blue Campaigns.

The survey, conducted Oct. 27 through Friday, shows Tipton supported by 46 percent of those surveyed, Mitsch Bush by 41 percent, Libertarian Gaylon Kent by 4 percent, and independent Mary Malarsie by 1 percent.

It also shows that 7 percent of voters are still undecided — more than enough to cover the spread between Tipton and Mitsch Bush.

The poll showed even stronger support for Tipton when they were asked if the incumbent “deserves to be re-elected.” Fifty percent said yes and 41 percent said no.

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Tipton, a Cortez resident who is seeking his fifth term, won the district by 14.3 points in his last run in 2016. He won his seat by defeating incumbent Democrat John Salazar in 2010 during a strong year for Republicans nationwide.

Mitsch Bush, of Steamboat Springs, is a former state House representative.

While the largely rural district has been leaning heavily Republican for years, some observers had thought that Tipton might face a challenging race if a nationwide “blue wave” of support for Democrats washes over Colorado.

The national election forecast blog FiveThirtyEight in mid-October ranked the race as a toss-up between the two candidates. But as of Saturday, the site — after incorporating the results of the new poll — gives Tipton an 83.5 percent chance of winning and rates the district “likely R.”

An earlier survey of likely voters from Change Research, conducted Oct. 27-29, showed Tipton with a 15-point advantage, 53 to 38 percent.

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The new JMC/Bold Blue poll is deemed to have an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent. “The poll was both conducted and weighted to reflect the expected voter turnout demographics in the district,” the poll report says.

Of those surveyed, 39 percent identified themselves as Republican, 34 percent as Democrat, and 27 percent as independent.

Twenty-two percent of those polled said they already had voted, another 46 percent said they were “almost certain” to vote, and 23 percent said they “very likely” would vote.

The 3rd District likely voters also were asked whom they support in the Colorado governor’s race, and 46 percent said they favor Republican Walker Stapleton, while 41 percent support Democrat Jared Polis and 13 percent are undecided.

Stapleton, who has been trailing in statewide surveys, is hoping for a strong showing in rural Colorado areas like the 3rd CD to compensate for Polis’ strong support in metro Denver.

In a surprising result in a part of the state where oil and gas development is a major part of the economy, 3rd CD likely voters were evenly split, 43-43 percent, on Proposition 112, a measure that would greatly increase restrictions on fossil-fuel operations near homes and other occupied buildings, the poll indicates. Another 14 percent said they were unsure how they would vote on the measure.

(The survey’s question on 112 erroneously called it a “proposed amendment to the Colorado constitution”; in fact, 112 is a statutory measure that would not be part of the state constitution.)

Other major findings of the Bold Blue-JMC survey:

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