Nathan Dunlap (Helen H. Richardson, Denver Post file photo)
  • Oct 30:
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  • Oct 28:
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    John Hickenlooper
  • Oct 23:
  • Poll finds Colorado governor's race remains tight with few undecided
  • Oct 20:
  • Hickenlooper silent on tax refunds, marijuana money in budget plan
  • Oct 15:
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  • Oct 14:
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  • Oct 13:
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  • Sep 5:
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  • Aug 25:
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  • Jul 10:
  • Nathan Dunlap, Colorado death penalty case rehashed in CNN documentary
  • Feb 24:
  • Colorado death penalty curbs rejected by lawmakers
  • Feb 20:
  • Hickenlooper death-penalty decision inspires GOP bill on reprieves
  • Jun 10:
  • Prosecutor: Prepare for execution despite reprieve
  • Jun 3:
  • No credible evidence on whether death penalty deters, experts say

While the death penalty has been at the forefront of debate in the Colorado governor's race this year, a new Denver Post poll suggests the issue may lack bite.

It's failing to play much of a role in most voters' decisions, with only 18 percent of likely voters in the SurveyUSA poll saying the issue is a major factor. Most of those who say the death penalty is a major factor are backing Bob Beauprez, the Republican challenger to Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper has faced criticism from death penalty supporters since he granted Chuck E. Cheese killer Nathan Dunlap a reprieve on his death sentence in May 2013, leaving the decision to the next governor. Recently Hickenlooper suggested he might grant Dunlap clemency if he does not win reelection.

Countering that, Beauprez has vowed on the campaign trail to execute Dunlap, making the issue into an applause line.

The Post's poll — which found the race neck and neck — surveyed voters on the death penalty. ( Read complete results here.)

Sixty-three percent of respondents said they support the death penalty, and 28 percent are opposed while 10 percent are unsure. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

The nearly one in five respondents who say the death penalty is a major factor in their vote for governor back Beauprez 3-to-1, SurveyUSA says.

But 47 percent say it's a minor factor, and their support is split between the candidates, the pollster says.

Among the 33 percent who say the death penalty isn't a factor, most — by a 2-to-1 margin — back Hickenlooper.

Jon Murray: 303-954-1405, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or

Colorado governor's race

The Denver Post's poll by SurveyUSA was conducted Sept. 8 through Sept. 10. Pollsters started with 850 Colorado adults and narrowed the field to 664 likely voters. SurveyUSA contacted both landlines and cell phones. The poll results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points. Pollsters weighted the sample by gender, age, race and region, but not by party identification. The party affiliation breakdown of the sample, with numbers rounded, was 33 percent Republican, 33 percent Democratic and 33 percent unaffiliated.