Denver With just a month left in the campaign, Democrat Bill Ritter holds a 10-point lead over Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez in the race for Colorado governor, according to a poll released Friday that also shows a large number of undecided voters.
Ritter, a former Denver district attorney, leads Beauprez 43 percent to 33 percent, according to the statewide poll of 500 likely voters by Ciruli Associates. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
The survey was conducted Sept. 26-Oct. 2 using voter registration lists. The political questions were part of a larger survey concerning economic development sponsored by the Economic Developers' Council of Colorado.
The poll found 20 percent of respondents were undecided. Ciruli said the race is expected to hinge on unaffiliated voters, where Ritter has a 32-point lead, though unaffiliated voters often do not vote in midterm elections.
"That's a group that's pretty volatile, but they're looking for change," Ciruli said.
John Marshall, a spokesman for the Beauprez campaign, said the fact that there are so many unaffiliated voters who are undecided is a sign "voters are not comfortable with Ritter."
The poll was taken as Republicans began an advertising campaign attacking Ritter's record on plea bargaining with legal and illegal immigrants while he was Denver's top prosecutor. Ciruli said he expects the race to tighten.
Republican voter registration in Colorado exceeds that of Democrats by more than 170,000, Ciruli said, but Beauprez is trailing because he is receiving less support from his GOP voters compared with Ritter's support from Democrats.
Ritter is getting support from 70 percent of Democratic voters and only loses 10 percent to Beauprez, while Beauprez is winning over 60 percent of Republican voters and losing 15 percent to Ritter, the poll found.
The poll also showed that Democratic voters are far more enthusiastic about the election than Republican voters: 46 percent for Democrats, 31 percent for Republicans.
According to the poll, Ritter leads Beauprez in every region of the state except on the eastern plains. On the Western Slope, the poll found that Ritter leads 44 percent to 32 percent.