Bennet leads O’Dea by 8 points in Colorado, says GOP-funded Senate poll

By: - August 15, 2022 11:43 am

Sen. Michael Bennet, left, and Joe O’Dea, right. (Bennet: Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline. O’Dea: Courtesy of Sage Naumann/O’Dea campaign)

Despite promises from Republican leaders to be “all in” on Colorado’s U.S. Senate race, incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet remains favored to hold off a challenge from first-time GOP candidate Joe O’Dea, a new poll shows.

The poll, released by Republican firm McLaughlin and Associates on Aug. 12, found that 48% of voters would choose Bennet in a head-to-head matchup if the election were held today, compared to 40% support for O’Dea. The survey was conducted between July 24 and 26 among 500 likely voters, and has a margin of error of 4.4%.

It’s the first public poll of the race since the general-election matchup was finalized on June 28, when O’Dea defeated far-right state Rep. Ron Hanks in the Republican primary. A June survey by a Democratic-leaning firm also found Bennet ahead by 13 points in contests against both O’Dea and Hanks.


McLaughlin and Associates served as former President Donald Trump’s campaign pollster in 2016, and also touts its work for far-right Hungarian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The firm is given a C/D rating by polling analysis website FiveThirtyEight, with 20 of the 27 McLaughlin polls analyzed showing an overestimate for GOP candidates.

Ahead of what is expected to be challenging midterm election for Democrats, the McLaughlin poll found that 58% of Coloradans disapprove of President Joe Biden’s job performance. Bennet boasts a healthier image among likely voters, however, with 45% of respondents saying they had a favorable image of Colorado’s senior senator, compared to 33% unfavorable.

O’Dea remains an unknown quantity with a majority of likely voters, the poll found. Over 50% of respondents said they either had never heard of the Denver construction CEO or had no opinion of him.

The poll was fielded prior to congressional Democrats’ passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, a compromise bill with Sen. Joe Manchin that includes $369 billion in spending to fight climate change, a top Democratic priority. Bennet has hailed the bill’s passage as a historic investment in clean energy, while O’Dea, who has rejected the scientific consensus on climate change, told Axios that he “didn’t see anything in (the bill) that I like.”

A string of legislative victories, combined with the fallout from the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, has revived Democratic hopes of retaining control of the Senate in November. O’Dea has expressed support for limited abortion rights early in pregnancy, while opposing abortion-rights legislation backed by Democrats at the state and federal levels as too expansive.

The McLaughlin poll found that nearly two-thirds of Coloradans are supportive of abortion rights, with just 7% saying that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.


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Chase Woodruff
Chase Woodruff

Reporter Chase Woodruff covers the environment, the economy and other stories for Colorado Newsline.