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DENVER — A poll by Quinnipiac University shows the governor’s race is in a virtual dead heat less than four months before election day.

Republican challenger Bob Beauprez is at 44 percent with Gov. John Hickenlooper at 43 percent, well within the margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points in the poll, which was released Wednesday morning.

READ THE POLL: Quinnipiac governor’s race poll

But the bigger concern for Hickenlooper is his job approval rating, which plunged since the last Quinnipiac poll in April. Voters give the governor a 48 percent approval with 46 percent disapproving. But in April, Hickenlooper’s job approval was at 51 percent, and that poll had him beating Beauprez 48 percent to 39 percent.

The drop may have to do with Hickenlooper’s June 13 comments to a group of Colorado sheriffs, in which he seemed to apologize for signing the ban on high-capacity gun magazines and the legislative process in 2013 when the bill was passed while also denying speaking with New York City Mayor Bloomberg, despite phone records showing he had.

Hickenlooper later explained to FOX31 that he would sign the magazine ban again and that he’d simply meant that Bloomberg wasn’t a factor in his decision, but the comments generated a week of negative media coverage, reawakening last year’s contentious battle over gun laws that the governor’s office had worked hard to put in the rear view mirror.

A poll Tuesday by NBC News/Marist College had Hickenlooper leading Beauprez 49 percent to 43 percent.

The Quinnipiac poll shows 64 percent of voters say the economy in the state is “excellent” or good,” while 49 percent said it’s getting better. Twelve percent said it’s getting worse.

“Coloradans seem generally optimistic about the future and confidant in the state’s economy, but that is certainly not enough to open the way for a smooth ride to reelection for Gov. John Hickenlooper,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll. “Is former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez enjoying a bounce after his Republican primary win or is he a real challenge to the Democratic incumbent?”

Twenty percent of voters said the economy/jobs was the most important issue in deciding who they will cast their ballot for, with 9 percent saying gun issues and 6 percent saying education or education funding.

Women favored Hickenlooper 48 percent to 40 percent, men favored Beauprez 48 percent to 37 percent, and independents were split, with 41 percent favoring Beauprez and 40 percent for the governor.

Like the NBC/Marist poll Tuesday, Quinnipiac’s survey polled registered Colorado voters, not likely voters.