John Frank and Sandra Fish in a Sun analysis (July 2) examine polling data from the beginning of Gardner’s career and make several points.
- Gardner had a positive approval rating shortly after Donald Trump was elected president, but they both suffered significant declines so that by 2019, they were in negative territory. Trump made Gardner’s life especially difficult with the late 2018 government shutdown over immigration and the wall. In mid-March 2019, the Denver Post highlighted their unhappiness by withdrawing their 2014 endorsement of Gardner.
- Both senate candidates are suffering from negative advertising and the impact on their favorability ratings is evident. Gardner promises it will get much worse for Hickenlooper – no doubt (The Sun shows Hickenlooper went from 50% approval in 2014 to 44% in May).
- Gardner expects a close race and his victory will hinge on massive support from the Republican base with just enough independents to eke out a 2-point win, like his original win in 2014.
I would suggest it will require some improvement in Trump’s campaign position vis-à-vis Biden, otherwise an 8- to 10-point loss at the top of the ticket will be a near unsurmountable burden in the effort to turn this into a two-person race with Hickenlooper.