Republican split helps Democrat in Colorado gov. race

WASHINGTON Wed Aug 25, 2010 11:10am EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat John Hickenlooper has a substantial lead in the Colorado governor's race thanks to a third-party candidate who is splitting the Republican vote, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.

But Democrats enjoy no such luck in Colorado's Senate race, where incumbent Michael Bennet trails Republican challenger Ken Buck by 40 percent to 49 percent, the poll found.

The mixed results ahead of the November election reflect Colorado's status as a hard-fought battleground where neither party holds a clear advantage.

Former Republican Tom Tancredo appears to be playing a spoiler's role in the race for governor as he is attracting voters who otherwise would support the Republican candidate, Dan Maes, the poll found.

Some 41 percent of likely Colorado voters said they would vote for Hickenlooper, the current mayor of Denver, the survey found. Some 33 percent said they would support Maes and 16 percent said they planned to support Tancredo, who left the party to run as a candidate for the little-known American Constitution party.

Without Tancredo in the race, Maes and Hickenlooper would be tied at 45 percent each, according to the poll of likely voters.

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(Reporting by Andy Sullivan; editing by David Alexander)

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