Poll: Udall, Gardner in a dead heat

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) starts his Senate bid in a dead heat with Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), according to one of the first public polls released since Gardner jumped into the race.

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Udall leads Gardner by 42 percent-40 percent, a statistical tie, in a newly released automated poll from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. Udall's approval rating is at 41 percent, with 40 percent disapproving.

The senator's narrow lead appears to be driven mostly by President Obama's unpopularity in a state he won twice. Obama's approval rating is at 43 percent with 53 percent disapproving.

Gardner jumped into the race in late February after earlier deciding not to run, a coup for Senate Republicans and a big upgrade over a weak field of candidates. The top three GOP candidates then in the race have since dropped out.

This is the second poll of the race since Gardner announced his candidacy. The conservative Rasmussen Reports found a similar result earlier this month, with Udall leading Gardner by 42 percent-41 percent.

PPP surveyed 568 registered voters from March 13-16. The automated poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percent.