Trump tweets Stapleton endorsement; poll shows Polis ahead by 11 points

Author: Mark Harden - October 10, 2018 - Updated: October 10, 2018

President Donald Trump reacts after speaking during a rally Aug. 21, 2018, in Charleston, W.Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump endorsed Colorado gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton Wednesday morning in a posting on Twitter.

“Walker Stapleton is running as the highly respected Republican Candidate for Governor of the Great State of Colorado,” Trump tweeted via his @RealDonaldTrump account. “His credentials and talents are impeccable. He has my complete and total Endorsement!”

The president has been active in campaigning for Republican candidates in key states, but there are no announced plans for Trump to appear in Colorado on behalf of Stapleton or any other candidate.

Former President Barack Obama previously endorsed Stapleton’s Democratic rival, Jared Polis.

Asked about the Trump endorsement, Stapleton campaign spokesman Jerrod Dobkin issued this statement:

“President Trump supports Walker because he knows Walker will fight for hardworking Coloradans every day. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, is campaigning for Jared Polis because they both support expanding government and raising taxes. Bernie Sanders and Jared Polis are the poster boys of the radical left (whose) policies would hurt Colorado families.”

Sanders, a senator from Vermont and a 2016 candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, plans to attend campaign rallies in Boulder and Fort Collins on Oct. 24 in support of Polis and other Colorado candidates, the state Democratic Party says. (Polis supported Hillary Clinton over Sanders during that year’s primary campaign.)

The Stapleton campaign did not respond to a question about whether it knew in advance of Trump’s endorsement.

Polis, meanwhile, posted this to his campaign Twitter account:

“It’s no wonder Donald Trump is supporting Walker Stapleton so enthusiastically — because he couldn’t have asked for a better yes-man for his destructive policies. Whether it’s taking away people’s health care or selling off our public lands, Stapleton has shown that he’s more than happy to do Trump’s bidding, even when it hurts Coloradans.”

Trump’s endorsement comes as Stapleton, the state treasurer, has been trailing Polis, the Boulder congressman, in public and internal polls.

A survey released Wednesday by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation with the Colorado Health Foundation shows Polis ahead of Stapleton by 11 percentage points among Colorado registered voters, with 44 percent for Polis and 33 percent for Stapleton and with 15 percent still undecided.

The Kaiser-CHF telephone poll of 1,803 Colorado adults was conducted several weeks ago — Aug. 15 through Sept. 19. It has an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

An earlier survey, from Keating Research and Magellan Strategies, showed Polis with a 7 percentage point lead, 47 percent to Stapleton’s 40 percent, with 11 percent undecided. That poll of 600 Coloradans deemed to be likely voters was conducted Sept. 18-20 and has an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

It’s not clear what advantage a Trump endorsement will give Stapleton as he tries to reach out to independent and moderate Democratic voters in November’s election. In Colorado, Trump trailed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election by 5 percentage points, and a June poll from a Republican-affiliated firm, Cygnal Research, showed that 69 percent of unaffiliated voters in Colorado have an unfavorable view of the president.

Nationally, polls show that Trump is wildly popular among Republicans. But he’s equally as unpopular among Democrats, although Gallup reports that Trump’s overall national rating has ticked up a few points in recent weeks — to 43 percent approval versus 53 percent disapproval as of the first week of October — amid the controversy over the turmoil leading to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a Supreme Court justice.

Polis campaign manager Jenn Ridder even called attention to the president’s endorsement of Stapleton in an email Wednesday seeking donations.

Before June’s primary election, Stapleton embraced Trump and said the president would be welcome to campaign with him in Colorado. More recently, the candidate has been more guarded in his references to Trump, saying in debates that as governor he would support policies from “Washington” that he agreed with and oppose those he didn’t.

Joey Bunch of Colorado Politics contributed.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.