But it's important to point out that even before Gardner's appearance, Udall was facing a re-election campaign that had already grown more difficult than initially anticipated. In PPP's December poll, Udall only sported a 46-42 lead on 2010 GOP nominee Ken Buck, who has since dropped down to run for Gardner's seat. And in the new survey, Udall also doesn't do a whole lot better against the one remotely plausible non-Gardner candidate still in the race, state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who trails 44-37 and is unknown to 70 percent of the state.
But what about state Sen. Owen Hill, who was so voluble about the backroom switcheroo arranged by Buck and Gardner that he branded as "corrupt"? Well, Hill's decided to be a team player after all: On Monday, he dropped out and endorsed Gardner, saying Republicans need a "united front."
It's possible, though, that his departure might aid Baumgardner if any kind of anti-Gardner movement coalesces. And actually, Baumgardner came closest to Gardner (albeit not close) in PPP's test of the GOP primary, trailing 44-15, with Hill at 6 and a couple of Some Dudes in low single digits. Hill, though, had at least earned the backing of the outside group Tea Party Express; no one really seems to love Baumgardner, and Democrats have to operate with the expectation that Gardner will be the nominee.
As we always like to caution, this is just one poll—but it doesn't come in a vacuum. Not only is there Gardner's decision to consider, but the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity just inserted itself into the race for the first time, with a $1 million television ad buy targeting Udall.
Udall, though, is a strong campaigner and excellent fundraiser, and he still has an advantage here. But Republicans have succeeded in putting this race into play, and even if Udall prevails, a competitive contest in Colorado means that already-stretched resources will likely get spread even thinner. With control of the Senate up for grabs and so many blue seats vulnerable, this is not a positive development for Democrats.