The incumbents running for Routt County commissioner enjoy comfortable leads with less than two weeks to go until the Nov. 2 election, according to a telephone survey of registered voters conducted by the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
The survey also showed that President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are locked in a tight battle, and that incumbent state Sen. Jack Taylor trails challenger Jay Fetcher in Routt County.
The Pilot & Today surveyed 130 registered voters -- 65 women and 65 men -- Wednesday and Thursday. The sampling represented slightly more than 1 percent of the county's 12,793 active, registered voters.
Of those who participated in the survey, 39 percent identified themselves as Republicans, 32 percent said they are Democrats, 25 percent said they are independents, and 4 percent said they are affiliated with other parties. The Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office shows the county's active, registered voters include 35 percent Republicans, 28 percent Democrats, 37 percent independents and 1 percent for other parties.
Republican incumbent Nancy Stahoviak earned 65 percent support in county commissioner District 1, according to the newspaper survey. Libertarian Mike Kien had 11 percent, and 24 percent said they are undecided.
In District 2, incumbent Democrat Doug Monger netted 51 percent support compared with 25 percent for his Republican challenger, Jeff Fry. Twenty-four percent of the poll participants said they are undecided.
Kerry nudged Bush 47 percent to 43 percent in the newspaper survey, mostly because of strong support from independents. Ninety-one percent of Democrats said Kerry will get their vote, and 90 percent of Republicans said Bush would get their vote. But Kerry got 53 percent support among independents, compared with just 19 percent support for Bush. One-fourth of the independents said they have not decided who will receive their vote for president.
Ken Brenner, chairman of the Routt County Democratic Party, said the results are similar to results the party has gotten for other Democratic candidates in surveys of unaffiliated voters.
Harmon "Buck" Buckland, chairman of the Routt County Republicans, said he remains confident that Bush will win the county.
"It totally surprises me (that the poll showed Kerry leading)," Buckland said. "I think what President Bush stands for is what most of the folks of Routt County stand for, and that the president will win here."
Fetcher, the Clark rancher and Democrat challenging Taylor for the state Senate District 8 seat, also enjoyed strong support among independents. Sixty-six percent of the independents surveyed said they would vote for Fetcher, giving him 54 percent of the overall vote compared with 37 percent for Taylor. Fetcher also garnered support from one of every four Republicans surveyed.
"The only poll that matters is the one on Nov. 2," Taylor said. "The voters will decide this thing."
Taylor lost Routt County in 2000 to Democrat Paul Ohri but still won the election. The majority of the votes in the Senate District 8 seat are along Interstate 70 between Rifle and Vail.
"In this particular case, (Fetcher) is a local boy, so to speak, and that always helps out," Buckland said. "Otherwise, I can't account for it. I think Jack will do very well in Routt County."
Brenner said Fetcher won Routt County in 2000 in his bid for the state House against Republican Al White. White won that race.
Brenner said he was encouraged to see Fetcher's strong support in this year's race, where he faces an incumbent, local Republican.
"Both candidates live here, so you know people are pretty informed about this race," he said.
Other items of note in the newspaper survey:
n Republican state Rep. Al White of Winter Park leads Democratic challenger Sam Robinson in Routt County, 39 percent to 20 percent. Almost 41 percent of voters surveyed said they are undecided, the largest percentage of undecided voters revealed in the survey.
n The bitter race to replace Republican Scott McInnis in the 3rd Congressional District is tight in Routt County. Democrat John Salazar, who enjoyed double-digit leads over Republican Greg Walcher after the primaries in August, leads Walcher by just six points in Routt County. Twenty-seven percent of surveyed voters said they are undecided about the congressional race.
n Salazar's brother, Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar, enjoys a large lead over Republican Pete Coors, according to the newspaper survey. Ken Salazar has 51 percent support compared with 35 percent support for Coors. That is in contrast to statewide polls that indicate the race is a dead heat.