Senate polls show Democrats up in Michigan and Colorado

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Two new polls hold good news for Democrats in the blue-leaning swing states of Colorado and Michigan, both crucial to the party’s hopes of protecting its fragile Senate majority. 

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The NBC/Marist polls released Tuesday show Democratic Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.) and Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) leading their Republican challengers, though their races remain tight.

In Colorado, Udall posts his strongest lead in months against Rep. Cory Gardner (R), taking 48 percent support among registered voters to Gardner’s 41 percent support, with 10 percent undecided.

The actual margin of the race is likely somewhat tighter, as nearly every survey has shown a one or two-point lead for Udall, and this poll tests registered, not likely voters. But the new poll could also be an indication Democratic attacks on Gardner’s support for restrictive abortion and birth control measures have taken a toll on his standing in the state.

In Michigan, Peters takes 43 percent support among registered voters to Republican Terri Lynn Land’s 37 percent support, while 19 percent remain undecided in the contest for the open seat. 

That aligns closely with most recent polls of the race, which have shown Peters holding onto a solid single-digit lead.

The details of the Colorado poll seem to indicate those Democratic attacks on Gardner’s position on women’s issues have indeed been trouble for him.

Udall’s lead is driven by a 12-point advantage with female voters, while he’s about tied with Gardner with male voters.

And the senator is somewhat more popular than his challenger, with 42 percent viewing Udall favorably while 36 percent have an unfavorable view of him, and a fifth of registered voters are unsure. Gardner splits respondents more evenly, with 34 percent holding a favorable view, 32 percent viewing him unfavorably, and a quarter of voters saying they’re still unsure.

The poll also shows more than two-thirds of voters say they’d be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports restrictions on abortions and contraception.

But both Gardner and Land could have an opening on the healthcare law and President Obama, both of which remain unpopular in their states.

In Colorado, 50 percent of respondents disapprove of the job the president’s doing, while 40 percent approve; in Michigan, 48 percent disapprove, while 40 percent approve of President Obama.

And 52 percent of Colorado registered voters view the healthcare law as a bad idea, while 50 percent of Michigan registered voters say the same. About a third of voters in each state say it’s a good idea.

While neither state is a must-win for Republicans, Democrats need to successfully defend both if they hope to maintain their hold on the Senate this fall. Top-tier recruits have given Republicans hope for their chances in the two states, but the NBC/Marist survey shows about four months out, Democrats are holding their own.

Both states have competitive governors races, too. In Colorado, where Republicans had hoped to target Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) over the economy and gun rights issues, the incumbent leads former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R) 49 percent to 43 percent. The Michigan contest is much tighter though, with Republican Gov. Rick Snyder only up by two points, 46 percent to 44 percent, over Democratic challenger Mark Schauer. 

The Colorado survey was conducted among 914 registered voters via landline and cellphone and has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points, while the Michigan survey was conducted among 870 registered voters and has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.