Poll shows Udall trailing GOP challenger
© Greg Nash

DENVER, Colo. — A third independent survey this week shows Rep. Cory GardnerCory GardnerOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs denounce Capitol attack | Contractors halt donations after siege | 'QAnon Shaman' at Capitol is Navy vet Lobbying world Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Colo.) opening up a slight lead over Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallHickenlooper ousts Gardner in Colorado, handing Democrats vital pickup Live updates: Democrats fight to take control of the Senate The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip MORE (D-Colo.) — and cracking 50 percent of the vote.

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The CNN/ORC poll gives Gardner 50 percent support among likely voters, while Udall takes 46 percent support — just within the poll's 4-percentage-point margin of error.

It's the third independent survey out this week to give Gardner the lead in the race, and the latest in a long spate of surveys, spanning from early September to now, that have shown Udall trailing.

A Democratic aide confirmed that his latest internal poll also shows the race tightening, and the incumbent is now tied with his GOP challenger. A month ago, Udall's internals had been steady, consistently showing him leading Gardner by 2 points.

And the CNN/ORC poll indicates at least one major plank of his campaign strategy — to target female voters with attacks focused on Gardner's previous support for restrictions on contraceptives — is falling short.

The incumbent leads with women, but only by 9 points in the poll. Gardner leads with men by 20 points.

And the GOP challenger is also better liked, with 50 percent viewing him favorably, while 42 percent view him negatively. Udall, meanwhile, is underwater, seen favorably by 45 percent and unfavorably by 51 percent.

Gardner sought to harness that likeability factor in his latest ad, launched Thursday, which features the congressman hiking in the mountains and contrasting Udall's campaign, which has gotten "too tired, too mean" with himself.

"Sen. Udall's brand of politics divides us. It keeps us from fixing Obama's failures, and it puts our children deep in debt," he adds.

Gardner pledges: "When my party is wrong, I'll say it. When something is broken, I'll fix it."

Udall released two new ads of his own this week — one again hammering Gardner on women's issues, featuring a gynecologist knocking Gardner for "getting between me and my patients," and the other touting the senator's fight against the Patriot Act, calling him "one of the last real mavericks of the Senate."

The two meet for their final debate Wednesday night.