With just three weeks left before the presidential election, voters in the swing state of Colorado are giving the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden a 4 point lead (47-43) over the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin, according to a poll released today by Suffolk University. The most recent polls taken by other pollsters had shown the Obama lead between 6-10 points.

 "Despite a small Obama lead, Colorado is up for grabs,” said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston. "When the history of this election is written, one common thread will be how voters have repeatedly up-ended the conventional wisdom.”

 Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr polled 1 percent and Independent Ralph Nader secured 2 percent, while 6 percent of voters surveyed were undecided. There are 16 candidates for president listed on the Colorado ballot.

 Those optimistic about the economy next year favor John McCain by a 49 percent to 44 percent margin while those who believe the economy will get worse next year support Obama 48 percent to 37 percent.

Overall, Colorado voters appear to be optimistic about the economy looking ahead to next year. Exactly 49 percent said the economy will get better next year and just 31 percent said worse, while 7 percent said it will stay the same and 12 percent were undecided.

 "The 4 percent Obama lead includes a 20 percent lead among independents," said Paleologos. "If McCain can convince Colorado independents that there is bi-partisan hope at the end of the economic tunnel, he will close the overall margin in the state. If Obama makes the presidential election a referendum on the current state of the economy, he will extend his lead."

 More Colorado respondents are now comfortable with the thought of a President Obama versus a President McCain. Despite personal preferences, when voters were asked to define their comfort level, 43 percent said they were extremely or very comfortable with Barack Obama while just 30 percent said the same about John McCain. In addition, 34 percent said they were not at all comfortable with Obama, but 37 percent were not at all comfortable with McCain.

 Obama also widely won the perception game in the Suffolk University poll. When asked who would be the next president, regardless of their personal preference, 64 percent of voters polled said Barack Obama, 20 percent said John McCain, and 16 percent were undecided.

In the fight for the U.S. Senate seat this November, Democrat Mark Udall (45 percent) has opened up an 11 percentage point lead over Republican Bob Schaffer (34 percent), American Constitution Party Douglas "Dayhorse" Campbell (3 percent), and Green Party Robert Kinsey (1 percent). There were 15 percent undecided for U.S. Senate. In the Suffolk University August poll of Colorado likely voters, Udall only led Schaffer by 8 percent with a much higher undecided count.

The bellwether of Alamosa County showed Obama (45 percent) leading McCain (43 percent) with Barr and Nader each receiving 1 percent while 9 percent were undecided and 1 percent refused. In 2008, Suffolk University bellwethers were 95 percent accurate in predicting straight-up winners in both Democratic and Republican primaries, and when coupled with the sister statewide Suffolk polls of the respective states, were 100 percent accurate in predicting straight-up winners.

The Suffolk University poll was conducted Friday, October 10, 2008, through Monday, October 13, 2008. The margin of error on the study of 600 is +/- 4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. All respondents from the Colorado statewide survey were likely voters from all parties in Colorado. Separate from the statewide poll, there were 300 respondents from Alamosa County, Colo. Marginals and 96 pages of cross-tabulation data will be posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site – on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.