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Rep. Mark Udall (D) led former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) by 9 points in the race for Senate, according to a poll that was recently conducted for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The survey by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group showed Udall ahead of Schaffer, 46 percent to 37 percent, with 17 percent undecided. The poll, conducted June 15-17, gauged the opinions of 807 likely voters and had an error margin of 3.5 points.

“The more Coloradans get to know Bob Schaffer, the less they want him representing them in the Senate,” DSCC spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Privately, Republican operatives acknowledge that Schaffer has been hurt by the raft of press coverage over the past two months regarding his links to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and others involved in an earmark scandal. But these same Republicans also contend that this race is much closer than the DSCC’s poll suggests.

National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher argued that most Colorado voters tend to share Schaffer’s philosophy on major issues, and she said Udall would eventually suffer politically because of that.

“Outside liberal groups have been spending millions in the state to distort Bob Schaffer’s record,” Fisher said. “Coloradans will see through these political games and elect the candidate that most closely aligns with their beliefs — Boulder liberal Udall is not that candidate.”

The DSCC, in addition to being pleased with the head-to-head results of this latest poll, liked what it saw beneath the surface. Among the survey’s other findings:

• Democrats led the generic ballot, 42 percent to 36 percent, with 16 percent saying it “depends.”

• Among the 46 percent of respondents supporting Udall, 41 percent of them were strongly in the Democrat’s camp, while 5 percent of them were “leaners.” Among the 37 percent of respondents supporting Schaffer, 7 percent were “leaners.”

• When respondents were asked whether their support for either candidate was “strong” or “not that strong,” 57 percent said their support for Udall was strong, while just 43 percent said their support of Schaffer was strong.

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