A Rocky Mountain red wave election on the horizon?

Colorado is generally thought to be a reliably blue state, but a new poll suggests that a red wave election could sweep Republicans into power at the state capitol come November, in part because of voters dissatisfaction with Democrats’ focus on gun control legislation instead of kitchen table issues.

Now, this is one poll, and it was commissioned by the Republican State Leadership Commission, but as the Denver Post notes in its story, the polling firm used by the RSLC is legit, and the polling sample used is in line with the state’s voter demographics (29% Democrats, 26% Republicans, and 44% unaffiliated). And if the numbers are anywhere close to the reality on the ground in Colorado, Democrats are in trouble.

Respondents were split when asked whether they feel things in Colorado are generally “headed in the right direction or off on the wrong track,” with 47.5% choosing the former and 45.9% choosing the latter. They were similarly split when asked whether they’d elect a generic Republican or Democrat to the state legislature, with respondents very narrowly leaning right — 43.7% to 42.6%.

Colorado Democrats have controlled state politics since 2018, when they flipped the state Senate and maintained the state House and governor’s office. They also control the offices of the treasurer, attorney general and secretary of state, the University of Colorado Board of Regents, both U.S. Senate seats and four of Colorado’s seven seats in the U.S. House.

While their lead in the state House, 41 seats to 24, is safe from all but an unprecedented red wave election, the state Senate majority, at 20 seats to 15, is more fragile. Republicans need only to flip three seats to win back that chamber, which would hugely change dynamics at the Capitol even if Democrats maintain the House and Polis wins re-election.

The governor’s chances look strong, Cygnal found. The poll found negative net favorability ratings for Democratic Colorado state legislators (-13.1%), Biden (-14.5%) and elected Democrats in D.C. (-19%) — but Polis rated with a net favorability of 6.6%.

Polis’ popularity compared to his Democratic colleagues in the legislature is curious, but as the Post points out, while the governor has signed virtually every gun control bill that’s reached his desk, he’s been far more vocal in recent months about his opposition to statewide mask mandates and getting back to some semblance of normality rather than letting fears of COVID consume our every waking moment. According to the Cygnal polling, that’s right in line with what Colorado voters are looking for.

30.7% plurality of respondents said “addressing the cost of living” should be the top priority for state government. That was followed by “getting things back to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic” at 17.9% and “creating jobs and growing the economy” at 13.3%.

Just 6.7% of voters said “social issues, like the Second Amendment and abortion” should be a top legislative priority, and more Colorado voters appear ready to put a check on Democrats’ power than grant them another two years of unfettered control of state government. 47.4% of likely voters surveyed say they’re more likely to vote for Republicans to serve as balance to Polis, while 43.5% of respondents say they’re more likely to back a candidate who supports Polis’ agenda.

In all, the poll paints a picture of a governor who’s personally liked but belongs to a party that’s losing its grip on the state’s independent voters because it’s too focused on issues like gun control. One survey isn’t enough to pop the champagne corks and celebrate, but it definitely should energize conservatives in Colorado as the midterm election cycle heats up.