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WASHINGTON – Democratic incumbent Mark Udall and Republican challenger Cory Gardner are running about even in Colorado's U.S. Senate race, according to an independent poll released Thursday.

The Quinnipiac University survey also showed Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, beating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.

Udall, who's seeking his second Senate term in the November elections, led Gardner, a Yuma congressman, 45 percent-44 percent, according to a telephone survey of 1,298 registered Colorado voters done April 15-21. The poll's margin of error was 2.7 percentage points.

Udall and Gardner essentially split the independent vote, with Gardner leading Udall 43 percent to 41 percent. Independent voters outnumber registered Democrats and Republicans in "purple" Colorado.

Other findings:

  • In potential presidential matchups, the survey had Paul beating Clinton 48 percent-43 percent. Clinton was even with Republican Chris Christie at 42 percent and slightly ahead of two other potential GOP candidates -- Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee
  • Coloradans have soured on President Barack Obama, who won the state with 53 percent of the vote in 2012. A total of 59 percent of those surveyed expressed disapproval of Obama's performance and 60 percent gave him bad marks for his handling of the economy.

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Contact Raju Chebium at rchebium@gannett.com; Twitter: @rchebium

(Copyright © 2014 USA TODAY)

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