Feb 21, 2023 - News

New poll shows Denver's mayor's race is scrambled

Data: Source: Cygnal, Chism Strategies; Chart: John Frank/Axios
Data: Source: Cygnal, Chism Strategies; Chart: John Frank/Axios

Denver's race for mayor is so wide open that no candidate has reached 10% support.

Driving the news: An independent poll commissioned by business leaders, first obtained by Axios Denver, finds only three candidates in the 17-way contest even exceed the survey's margin of error.

  • Kelly Brough, the former Denver chamber leader, sits atop the pack with 7.6% support among likely voters. Leslie Herod, a state representative, received 5.8%, just ahead of former state Sen. Mike Johnston at 5.3%.
  • The remaining top-tier candidates each received less than 4% support. The poll's margin of error is plus-or-minus 4.86%.
  • About 60% of voters say they are undecided, and even when asked a second choice, they are ambivalent about their options.

Why it matters: This is the first major public poll since the ballot was finalized earlier this month.

  • The unsettled landscape will send the candidates into hyperdrive to distinguish themselves, setting the stage for a furious scramble ahead of the April 4 election.

Between the lines: Denver business leaders, under the newly formed organization "A Denver for Us All," commissioned the Feb. 9-10 survey, which was conducted by a bipartisan team of pollsters.

  • The group was founded by David Carlson and Chris Romer, who lost the mayor's race to Michael Hancock in 2011.

Zoom in: Beyond the candidate questions, the survey looked at voter attitudes about homelessness with 96% labeling it a "crisis" or "major problem."

  • 57% support the city's "sweeps" to remove homeless encampments with 72 hours of notice — 34% opposed it.

Meanwhile, when it comes to crime, 74% consider it a "crisis" or "major problem" with one-third saying they felt unsafe in the city in recent weeks.

  • 50% oppose reducing the police department budget to shift the money to social welfare programs — 39% support.

What they're saying: "This race is anyone's game, especially if they will commit to taking the type of meaningful action to address the homelessness crisis that polling shows voters in Denver support," said Brent Buchanan, CEO of Republican polling company Cygnal, which collaborated with Democratic-firm Chism Strategies on the survey.

Of note: The public image for term-limited Hancock is sharply negative, with 55% viewing him unfavorably.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more