Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) remains vulnerable, with Quinnipiac University polls for the past six months showing voters divided on his job performance. But another statewide race is emerging as congressional Democrats suffer following the rocky rollout of the health care law, according to the new Q poll: The percentage of voters who disapprove of Democratic Sen. Mark Udall's job performance has been climbing since the spring, and he now appears to face a tougher reelection battle than previously thought. Once again, Colorado looks like a battleground state, as it was in the presidential race in 2012 and 2008, and in the 2010 Senate race.
-- Udall's approval rating now stands at 44% approve/44% disapprove. While the percentage of voters who approve of Udall's performance is steady from early June, the percentage who disapprove rose from 31% in the late spring. As a result, his reelect is upside down, and he holds only a 3-point lead over 2010 nominee Ken Buck (R). Hickenlooper, meanwhile, is in similar shape. He holds mid-single-digit leads over the GOP crop of candidates, but more voters say he doesn't deserve reelection.
-- Colorado Republicans have two big opportunities, but it's less clear that they have the candidates to capitalize on them. Buck and former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) remain popular among the GOP base, the Q poll shows. But roughly 2-in-5 voters say they haven't heard enough about the two to form an opinion, and Democrats won't lack for TV-ad fodder if one or both is on the statewide ticket.
-- Udall is the more interesting case. He has gone to great lengths to distinguish himself from President Obama on two issues: health care and government surveillance. Still, it's clear that Obama's abysmal approval rating -- 36%, down 7 points from June -- is weighing on Udall's reelection prospects.
Democrats -- even including those in second-tier seats without impressive Republican opposition, like Udall -- are hoping that Obama's sinking approval ratings represent the nadir for their party, and not the first signs of a rising wave against them. They have a lot riding on the continuing implementation of the health care law, and, if things don't turn around soon, flawed GOP opposition might not be enough to save them.