Fewer than a third of Colorado voters believe U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet deserves re-election next year, a new set of survey results shows.
With the election a year away, the Quinnipiac University poll asked 1,262 Colorado voters whether the Colorado Democrat deserves another term.
Thirty percent said yes, while 41 percent said no and 29 percent were undecided or didn't answer.
The Quinnipiac poll did not offer the names of any potential opponents for Bennet, a former Denver Public Schools superintendent.
State Democrats pushed back hard on the poll results, released Thursday.
"Quinnipiac in Colorado might have the worst track record of any pollster working today," Colorado Democratic Party spokesman Andrew Zucker said.
"This far out we expect polls to go up and down, but with Republicans still scrambling to find a credible opponent in this race, Michael will win because he works with anyone from either party to get things done for Colorado, challenges the status quo in Washington and fights for more opportunities for middle-class families," Zucker said.
The Bennet camp noted that in the weeks leading up to the 2014 election, several Quinnipiac polls showed Republican Bob Beauprez leading Democrat John Hickenlooper in the gubernatorial election, which Hickenlooper wound up winning by better than 3 percentage points.
But Bennet's foes crowed about the results.
"If I were Michael Bennet, these numbers would deeply concern me," said Kelly Maher, executive director of the conservative-leaning group Compass Colorado. "Republicans haven't yet coalesced around an opponent, so there's not even a well-publicized alternative option yet, and still less than a third of Coloradans believe he deserves to keep his job."
Republicans have had their own challenge in the Senate race: Finding a widely known candidate after U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman and Aurora theater shooting prosecutor George Brauchler declined to run.
Among Republicans who hope to unseat Bennet, or have expressed some interest in the race, are former Aurora City Councilman and TV commentator Ryan Frazier, businessman Robert Blaha, El Paso County commissioners Darryl Glenn and Peg Littleton, former state Small Business Association chief Greg Lopez, and state Sen. Tim Neville.
In the new Quinnipiac poll, surveyed Republicans oppose Bennet's re-election by a 57-15 percent margin, Quinnipiac said, while Democrats support him by a 52-19 percent spread. Among independents, 31 percent said Bennet deserves re-election while 41 percent said he doesn't and 28 percent are undecided.
When voters were asked if they approve or disapprove of the way Bennet is handling his job as senator, 37 percent said they approve, 35 percent disapprove, and 28 percent don't know or had no answer.
The poll also asked Colorado voters whether they approve or disapprove of the way various other elected officials are handling their job. Key results:
- Gov. John Hickenlooper: 47 percent approve, 41 percent disapprove.
- U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado: 45 percent approve, 27 percent disapprove, 28 percent don't know or had no answer.
- President Barack Obama: 39 percent approve, 58 percent disapprove. Split by party, 90 percent of Democrats approve of Obama; 4 percent of Republicans do.