The Daily Caller
Greg Campbell

Nearly half of Colorado doesn’t want Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper reelected in 2014, but voters still prefer him over his Republican challengers by small margins, according to a new poll from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The poll also shows that the state’s new gun control laws, which are certain to be an issue during the election, “sit very badly with Colorado gun owners,” Quinnipiac’s Tim Malloy said in a statement.

The poll shows Hickenlooper with lackluster numbers heading into the prime campaigning season, with 49 percent of respondents saying he doesn’t deserve to be reelected compared to 42 percent who say he does.

“Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper does not have much room to breathe the Rocky Mountain air, and certainly no clear sailing back to the statehouse,” Malloy said. ”Almost half of Colorado voters don’t want to give Gov. Hickenlooper four more years, but they seem to like the other guys a little less.”

Hickenlooper widened his lead slightly against former GOP congressman Tom Tancredo, the second place finisher in the 2010 election, when he ran on the American Constitution Party ticket. The candidates were neck and neck in an August poll, with Hickenlooper barely ahead by 46-45 percent. The new numbers show Tancredo slipping, with 41 percent preferring him to Hickenlooper’s 46 percent.

Hickenlooper is also ahead of other Republicans vying for the nomination, but the numbers are similarly tight. Against Secretary of State Scott Gessler, the incumbent governor is ahead 45-40. Against state Sen. Greg Brophy, he has the lead by 44-38. And against former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp, he is up 44-40.

Hickenlooper is vulnerable on several issues that have divided the state in recent months, especially gun control. The new poll illustrates that division, with 53 percent opposing “stricter new gun control laws” that require universal background checks and that limit the size of ammunition magazines.

But when asked about the individual measures, respondents overwhelmingly support background checks by a margin of 85-14 percent. On the question of ammunition limits, respondents were split, with 49 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed.

“Voters don’t like gun control, or maybe they just don’t like the words, ‘gun control,’” Malloy said. “There’s some support for limiting multi-round magazines, and overwhelming support for background checks.”

The new gun laws have already resulted in the successful recalls of two Democratic state senators and another effort is underway to oust Democratic state Sen. Evie Hudak.

The Quinnipiac poll shows that by a large margin — 57-36 percent — most Coloradans prefer to settle differences with elected officials during regular elections, not recalls.

In another poll released on Wednesday, Coloradans gave President Obama the worst approval rating in any state since he was elected, with 59 percent disapproving of the job he’s doing, compared to 36 percent who approve.

“President Barack Obama hits the rocks in the Rockies,” Malloy said.