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Sen. Mark Udall's Hopes Hinge On Ground Game

AURORA, Colo. (AP) — Sen. Mark Udall's hopes of keeping his job hinge on Colorado Democrats' ability to turn out voters.

Udall is facing a tough challenge from Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, and he told supporters Thursday evening that, amid polls shifting slightly in Gardner's favor, "the pundits are starting to weigh in and they say we don't have a chance." He scoffed and told the few dozen volunteers: "You all are the game-changers."

Cory Gardner
Senatorial candidate Rep. Cory Gardner addresses the audience at the Colorado Energy Forum presented by the Consumer Energy Alliance on Oct. 14 in Westminster. Colorado gubernatorial candidates Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican candidate Bob Beauprez along with U.S. Senate candidates Sen. Mark Udall and Rep. Cory Gardener delivered their views on the future of the Colorado energy economy, and participated in a question and answer session. (credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

That's because Democrats in Colorado have regularly outperformed polls on Election Day, partly due to their well-organized get-out-the-vote efforts. Sen. Michael Bennet recalled that, in 2010, no poll showed him beating his Republican challenger, but he managed to eke out a narrow victory due to his campaign's turnout effort.

Udall's is three times as large, partly at the urging of Bennet, who is now chairing the Democratic Party group that helps senate campaigns and has helped boost field efforts in Democratic Senate races across the country. The effort is called The Bannock Street Project, after the Denver headquarters of Bennet's 2010 re-election race.

There's also a new wrinkle that Democrats are count on working in their favor. Over Republican objections, the Democrat-controlled state legislature passed a bill sending mail-in ballots to all voters and allowing citizens to register to vote up through Election Day. That's expected to increase the number of voters and help the party with the most organized effort turn out more of its supporters.

Sen. Mark Udall Holds Campaign Rallies In Denver Area
U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) speaks to supporters as he kicks off his 'Mark Your Ballot' bus tour on Oct. 15, 2014 in Denver. Udall is running for re-election against U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) in the Nov. 4, 2014 Senatorial election. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Still, Republicans argue that they have improved their get-out-the-vote program, and they are aided by a large field operation by the conservative group Americans For Prosperity.

Cory Gardner Announcement
Rep. Cory Gardner announces his Senate run on March 1, 2014. (credit: CBS)

Republicans need to net six seats to win control of the Senate and are also trying to oust Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Udall is continuing his swing through Colorado get-out-the-vote offices, with stops in Boulder and Englewood on Friday. Gardner spent Thursday in Washington at a congressional hearing on the Ebola outbreak, where he reiterated his call for a ban on flights from the West African nations battling the virus.

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By NICHOLAS RICCARDI, Associated Press

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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