New research lab to take Colorado's political pulse

Published: Nov. 2, 2016 By

person waving american flags

The newly created American Politics Research Lab, housed in the Department of Political Science, has released its first pre-election study of Coloradans. 

The Colorado Political Climate Study consisted of a survey that was designed to gauge the public’s opinions – and the factors related to those opinions – on a number of key issues facing the state, from the 2016 presidential election to the various constitutional amendments appearing on this year’s ballot.

“This is the first year of what we hope will be an ongoing record of opinion on public affairs within the state,” said lead researcher and political scientist Scott Adler. “As our new lab continues to grow, we hope to invest further in the design and administration of the Colorado Political Climate Study. We envision it serving as a gauge of the pulse of Colorado with respect to state and national issues, elected officials and a broad spectrum of political characteristics.”

Adler said the researchers were particularly excited about the types of questions included in the inaugural study.

“Many of them go beyond the basic items included in more typical polls,” he said. “Their inclusion allows undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty to conduct a number of interesting analyses with respect to public opinion in Colorado.”

As of Oct. 24, 2016, which marked the conclusion of the survey period, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had a 10-percentage-point lead over Republican opponent Donald Trump among Coloradans, the study found. Clinton led among all racial groups, including whites, and with both men and women. 

Among the ballot measures before Colorado voters, Amendment 69 (ColoradoCare) was losing by 10 percentage points, with independents opposing it by over 20 percentage points. 

Many other high-profile amendments looked far more likely to pass, according to the results. Amendment 70 (minimum wage increase), Amendment 71 (changing procedures for constitutional amendments), Proposition 106 (end of life options) and propositions 107 and 108 (opening the primary system to unaffiliated voters) all had overwhelming support among Coloradans, Adler said. 

The study, which took place from Oct. 17-24, consisted of a roughly 12-minute survey that was completed online by 1,004 Colorado residents. Respondents were allowed to skip questions, which resulted in varied sample sizes on the individual questions. The study was limited to residents aged 18 and older.

Adler noted that participants in this year’s study were members of existing online panels maintained by professional research firms. Individuals were contacted through an agreement with Survey Sampling International. Since individuals were not randomly selected to participate, the study does not represent a random sample of the Colorado general public, and actual percentages on races and issues in the state may differ from the results presented in the study.