Kyrsten Sinema Pulls Ahead In Arizona Senate Race

The Senate race in Arizona has been close since Election Night, but Democratic nominee Kyrsten Sinema has pulled ahead.

In yet another one of the races that is too-close-call, Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema has pulled ahead of Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally in the race to succeed Senator Jeff Flake:

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema took a narrow 9,610-vote lead over GOP Rep. Martha McSally Thursday evening as Arizona’s election authorities counted more ballots in the state’s uncalled Senate race.

The lead amounts to less than half a percentage point with more than 1.8 million votes counted. McSally was up by 17,703 votes earlier in the day, before the counties processed another 160,000 votes — but about a half-million more votes remain to be counted across Arizona, according to both campaigns.

Most of the outstanding ballots are coming from Arizona’s largest county, Maricopa County, which is home to Phoenix and includes Sinema’s congressional district. Sinema held a slight edge of about 1 point over McSally in the county as of Thursday afternoon, but the new votes counted Thursday expanded the Democrat’s Maricopa edge to 2.5 points. That’s the outcome Democrats had hoped for, while Republicans were expecting McSally’s tally there to improve.

The state will continue to count early votes cast before the election daily until the race is resolved.

“Arizonans must have faith that their votes are counted, and we are working diligently to ensure that count proceeds in a fair, transparent, and timely manner that voters can trust,” Andrew Piatt, Sinema’s campaign manager, said in a statement Thursday afternoon. He said he was confident Sinema would prevail once the remaining half a million votes are counted.

“With half a million ballots left to count, we remain confident that as votes continue to come in from counties across the state, Martha McSally will be elected Arizona’s next senator,” McSally campaign CEO Jim Bognet said in a statement.

In Arizona, Sinema led comfortably in polling throughout the summer and fall, but McSally closed the gap by late October. The race was one of the most expensive in the country, with nearly $30 million spent by both parties.

Sinema and McSally are vying to replace Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who retired after clashing with President Donald Trump.

Both campaigns are digging in for a protracted coda to the election. McSally’s campaign sent out a fundraising request Thursday evening for donations to help fund an “army of attorneys and observers” to fend off any legal challenges once the votes are tallied.

McSally’s campaign also tweeted that she was “dreading a long and painful process.” The tweet included a photo of her in a dentist’s chair

The majority of the previously uncounted ballots, which consist mainly of ballots that were mailed in, absentee ballots, and military ballots, that have been counted so far come from Maricopa County, which is the area that Sinema represents in Congress and is also considered to be one of her stronghold areas of the state. For that reason, it’s not surprising that she managed to pull ahead of the lead that Congresswoman McSally had at the end of the night on Election Day. The ballots that will be counted over the weekend will also come from Maricopa and other areas likely to be favorable to Sinema. After that, there are a handful of areas favorable to Congressman McSally that will come in so the question will be whether Sinema will have built up enough of a lead to withstand the votes that will end up going in McSally’s favor at that point. reports that there are roughly 471,000 votes remaining to be counted in the state. This includes mail-in and absentee ballots as well as provisional ballots that may or may not be counted depending on whether or not they are deemed to be valid. Of those, roughly 346,000 of the uncounted ballots come from Maricopa County, amounting to roughly 73% of the uncounted ballots. Current numbers indicate that Sinema is leading McSally in Maricopa by roughly 27,700 votes and that she has 50.19% of the vote to McSally’s 47.67%. Additionally, the Green Party candidate has 23,472 votes or 2.14$ of the vote. (Source) If the remaining votes in the county follow this trend this would mean potentially as many as 174,000 additional votes for Sinema, and roughly 165,000 additional votes for McSally, increasing Sinema’s margin by roughly another 10,000 votes. Whether that will be enough to keep Sinema in the lead by the time this process is completed remains to be seen. As is the case with Florida, this leads to the question of whether or not we might be headed for a recount in Arizona. Generally speaking, Arizona’s recount law mandates a recount if the difference between the top two candidates is one-tenth of one percent or less. Currently, that’s obviously not the case, but we’ll have to wait and see if it kicks in after all the votes are counted.

Regardless of how this race turns out, it won’t have any impact on the makeup of the Senate. Even not taking the undetermined races in Arizona, Florida, and the Special Election in Mississippi, which will most likely go Republican in the November 27th runoff election, Republicans already have 51 seats in the Senate. Nonetheless, if the Democrats manage to flip Senator Flake’s seat, that will be significant. Sinema would be the first Democratic Senator from the state since Dennis DiConcini was re-elected in 1988. Her election 30 years later could be a sign that the state is turning purple, as many analysts have been anticipating for several years now.

Update: The latest update from Maricopa came in this evening, and Sinema’s lead has expanded:

It looks like Sinema is going to win this and that the final gap between her and McSally will be large enough to avoid a recount.



FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Congress, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. mattbernius says:

    The GOP argument against the parameters of the recount again gets to the issue of the issues of county control of our election system:

    The suit filed Wednesday by four county Republican parties alleges that the state’s 15 county recorders don’t follow a uniform standard for allowing voters to adjust problems with their mail-in ballots, and that two counties improperly allow those fixes after Election Day.

    Localism works great in local elections, but the moment that you are doing anything statewide it makes absolutely no sense (I’d argue nationwide as well).

    It’s also worth noting that this is another case of suddenly not liking the system you created (and localism) when they stop favoring you.

    This, btw, is part of the problem with the American criminal justice system where ever county and large municipality in the US has entirely separate and largely disconnected criminal justice systems.

  2. mattbernius says:

    BTW, for those watching this closely (especially the conspiracy-minded) it’s worth noting that Maricopa county was the site of the polling place that didn’t open because the landlord unexpected foreclosed on the building the night before the election:


  3. mattbernius says:

    Update on this: I just saw that the judge is going to allow the recount to go through AND to make it fair, allow all the counties in question to apply the most permissive county’s review parameters to the ballot review.

    This is a win/win regardless of political outcome as it was the most *enfranchising* option on the table.

    See folks, that isn’t hard.