If the city's strong mayor election had taken place last week, Steve Bach would have defeated Richard Skorman in every sector of the city and also claimed the female vote — a bit surprising, in light of published allegations from his first wife that Bach physically abused her.
In a poll conducted for the Independent, Bach, a political novice, led with 42 percent to Skorman's 35 percent, with 23 percent undecided. That was from a sampling of 400 voters; subsequent smaller polls since have shown the margin possibly a little tighter, with more undecided.
Skorman is winning with voters up to age 40, and other results show that his message of being a small businessman is four times as popular as the idea of having a real estate developer or broker win the city's highest office. But Bach, a broker, is grabbing the Republican vote in a GOP stronghold.
Luce Research conducted a scientific poll April 27 and 28 of 400 registered voters eligible to vote in the mayor's race. Of those polled, 87 percent said they are "very likely" to vote in the May 17 mayoral runoff, and 73 percent voted in the April 5 city election that thrust Bach and Skorman into the showdown. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.
Skorman, who owns a bookstore, restaurant and coffee/wine bar downtown, has linked Bach to the development trade, while Bach's campaign has played it down despite his past ownership of a development company and current involvement in real estate.
When asked whether Colorado Springs would be better off being run by a small businessman or real estate developer, half chose small businessman, while only 12 percent chose developer. In a related question, 56 percent chose small businessman, and 14 percent chose real estate broker.
To another poll question about whether developers have too much influence at City Hall, 42 percent said yes, while 6 percent said they have too little influence, and 30 percent said they have the right amount.
The poll's results pose an inconsistency, the polling firm's Todd Luce says. "It's interesting how the people overwhelmingly support a small businessman over developers, but they then flip on the question" of whom they'll actually vote for, he says.
The disconnect might stem from party politics entering the race. As one voter consulted in the poll put it, "I am a Republican and I vote for Republicans." And of those polled, 55 percent said they were Republicans, compared to 22 percent Democrats, and 23 percent unaffiliated.
Skorman, a registered Independent, leads among unaffiliated voters at 42 percent to Bach's 24 percent, and he leads among Democrats, with 69 percent. The former City Councilman and vice mayor also is polling better with Republicans, at 17 percent, than Bach is polling with Democrats, at 8 percent. But Bach is carrying 63 percent of the GOP voters.
Last month, Bach's first wife, Marian Volk, said Bach beat her during a short marriage more than 40 years ago. She was granted a divorce based on "mental and physical cruelty," court documents show. Bach, now in his third marriage, said Volk was lying. And her allegations haven't hampered him much, judging from poll results. He took 42 percent of the female vote in Luce's poll to Skorman's 35 percent, with 23 percent undecided. The split for male voters is about the same.
Skorman, 58, is winning among 18- to 39-year-olds, but a whopping 46 percent of the 18-to-29 crowd remains undecided, as does 37 percent of the 30-to-39 group. Bach, 68, dominates the older age groups, with 51 percent of those 65-plus.
Perhaps most troubling for the Skorman campaign is that Bach is winning in every sector of the city, including downtown and the west side, although that area gives Bach his slimmest margin at 42 percent to 40 percent.
Clear missive to county officials
Wondering what voters think of the county term-limits issue? It's not even close.
An overwhelming 61 percent of 400 voters in a Luce poll would support an item on the November ballot reducing the number of four-year terms for county commissioners from three to two.
The question arises out of a controversy last year, when commissioners asked voters to set term limits at three for commissioners, other county elected officials and the district attorney. All measures passed, but voters complained they felt tricked by the wording, which County Attorney Bill Louis acknowledged was designed to elicit approval.
Only commissioners can place the issues on the ballot, and Commissioner Peggy Littleton is ready to act. "I'm glad that scientific research poll was done," Littleton says. "I am in favor of putting it back on the ballot and letting the voters decide. I'm not afraid of putting it on."
But Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams called the Luce poll "incomplete," because it didn't ask voters if they were willing to pay for an election. "Saying, 'Would you like to go to vote?' is a very different question than asking if you'd like to pay $300,000 to vote on it," Williams says, adding the election is "not an appropriate expenditure of funds."
— Pam Zubeck