Senate underdogs spin polling their way

The emails from two US Senate candidates arrived the same day. First it was Republican Tom Wiens boasting of a new poll that shows he would top both Democrats, Sen. Michael Bennet and former Speaker Andrew Romanoff, if the 2010 election were held today. Then it was Romanoff crowing that he tops all comers from both parties in a Denver Business Journal poll. I was intrigued enough to click the links, but upon doing so, I learned there's more to the story in both cases.

Romanoff didn't mention that his DBJ triumph came in an unscientific reader-initiated straw poll, where some 1600 self-selected (or candidate-prompted) respondents took part.

Wiens didn't mention that his encouraging news came in context with overall results in a Rasmussen survey (randomly sampled and scientific, at least) where both of the other GOP contenders, Jane Norton and Ken Buck, ran stronger against both Democrats than he did.

Here is the DBJ straw poll tally on Colorado Senate 2010:

Andrew Romanoff - 29% Tom Wiens - 20% Jane Norton - 18% Michael Bennet - 13% Ken Buck - 8% Undecided and other - 11%

Below is the Rasmussen poll on Colorado Senate 2010, with interpretive text from Real Clear Politics.

After President Obama won Colorado last year, many believed the state was trending blue. However, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D), appointed this year to fill the vacant seat, trails three potential Republican opponents in a new Rasmussen poll (Dec. 8, 500 LV, MoE +/- 4.5%).

Bennet's favorable rating remains low, with 39% viewing him favorably and 46% unfavorably. All three Republicans -- Jane Norton, Tom Wiens and Ken Buck -- also lead Bennet's primary opponent, Andrew Romanoff.

Norton 45 - Romanoff 34 Norton 46 - Bennet 37 Wiens 41 - Romanoff 40 Wiens 42 - Bennet 41 Buck 41 - Romanoff 39 Buck 42 - Bennet 38