New poll suggests Cary Kennedy is narrowing Polis’ lead among Democratic voters

Former Colorado State Treasurer Cary Kennedy is inching closer to frontrunner status among Democrats, according to a new survey showing her four points behind U.S. Rep. Jared Polis.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy speaks at the Colorado Health Institute's Hot Issues in Health conference, Dec. 8, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy speaks with a constituent before a Democratic Party caucus at Smiley Middle School in North Park Hill, March 6, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) copolitics; denver; colorado; northeast park hill; denverite; colorado; kevinjbeaty; election;
Gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy speaks with a constituent before a Democratic Party caucus at Smiley Middle School in North Park Hill, March 6, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Former Colorado State Treasurer Cary Kennedy is inching closer to frontrunner status among Democrats, according to a new survey showing her four points behind U.S. Rep. Jared Polis.

Magellan Strategies published the survey Monday and said it’s based on 410 Democrat and unaffiliated voters who are likely to vote during this summer’s primary election. Polis leads the field with 27 percent support, while Kennedy received 23 percent support. Former state senator and teacher Mike Johnston received 8 percent support, while Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne had 5 percent support.

More than a third of respondents (36 percent) are undecided. The survey has a +/- 4.84 margin of error at the 95 percent confidence interval. The survey said findings were “slightly weighted to reflect the demographics of the past Democratic primary elections” in the state.

The results come on the heels of Kennedy’s resounding statewide precinct caucus victory on March 6, where she earned 50 percent of votes in a preference poll. Last Saturday, she enjoyed a local victory, earning 61 percent of votes from delegates in Denver County. Kennedy is hoping to earn a spot in June’s primary through the caucus process, while Polis has submitted signatures to appear on the ballot.

“Since January, the conventional wisdom among political observers in Colorado was that Jared Polis was the likely front runner in the Democrat primary for Governor,” Magellan Strategies wrote in the survey. “The results of this survey change that story, with Cary Kennedy emerging from the pack of Polis challengers. It appears Cary Kennedy has built some momentum from her victory in the preference polls taken at the March 6th Democrat precinct caucuses, defeating Jared Polis 50% to 32.5%.”

Female voters chose Kennedy over Polis by 25-24 percent, which is a statistical tie. Male voters in the survey chose Polis over Kennedy 31-20 percent. The survey does note that, historically, female voters contribute 60 percent of total votes cast in Democratic primary elections in Colorado.

Polis holds a big lead among unaffiliated voters, with the survey showing 30 percent support among respondents. It’s a 23-point lead compared to Kennedy, who earned 7 percent support. Johnston and Lynne both earned 8 percent support among unaffiliated voters. The survey only interviewed 51 unaffiliated voters; this measurement has a margin of error of +/- 13.8 percent.

None of the Democratic candidates have a negative image rating, the survey found. But they are not on equal grounds when it comes to name recognition, which the survey said could be more relevant.

Unsurprisingly, Polis is the most well-known candidate, with 73 percent of respondents having heard of him and 62 percent having an opinion of him. Some 56 percent of respondents had heard of Kennedy and 45 percent had an opinion of her. By contrast, Johnston and Lynne have work to do: 60 percent of respondents had never heard of Johnston, while a whopping 71 percent had never heard of the state’s lieutenant governor.

The survey also asked what issues Democrats want addressed. Affordable health care topped the list, with 20 percent support among all respondents, while ending gun violence came in second with 19 percent, and public education came in third with 16 percent.

Esteban L. Hernandez

Author: Esteban L. Hernandez

Esteban L. Hernandez is covering politics and other general assignment topics for Denverite. A native of Aurora, he previously worked at the New Haven Register and Register Citizen in Connecticut. He's a graduate of Hinkley High School in Aurora and the University of Colorado. He can be reached at 303-502-2805, ehernandez@denverite.com or @EstebanHRZ on Twitter.