Mark Kelly Leads Martha McSally In Latest Arizona Senate Poll

Mark Kelly, and the Democratic Party, got some good news in the latest Senate poll out of Arizona.

A new poll out of Arizona shows Senator Martha McSally losing to astronaut and Democratic candidate Mark Kelly for the first time in the race:

Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) trails her Democratic opponent for the first time, according to a new survey, as President Trump’s approval rating falls in the key swing state.
Retired astronaut Mark Kelly leads McSally, the retired fighter pilot-turned-politician, by a 46 percent to 41 percent margin, according to the poll conducted by OH Predictive Insights, a Phoenix-based pollster, and released first to The Hill.

The survey represents the first time this year that OH Predictive Insights has shown Kelly leading McSally. In February, the firm showed McSally leading by 2 percentage points. In May, McSally led by a single point.
McSally has fallen behind, the poll suggests, as President Trump’s standing takes a hit in Arizona. Just 47 percent of likely voters in the state approve of Trump’s job performance, down from 50 percent in May and 54 percent in October. His disapproval rating has risen from 46 percent last October to 52 percent today.

“Trump has seen a steady downward decline in his job approval,” said Mike Noble, a Republican pollster and the managing partner and chief of research at OH Predictive Insights.

The poll shows a dangerous trend for McSally, who now trails Kelly by 9 percentage points in Maricopa County, home to about 3 in 5 Arizona voters. In the group’s last poll, McSally trailed Kelly in Maricopa by 5 points.

In recent years, only one candidate, Diane Douglas, has won statewide election in Arizona without winning Maricopa County. Douglas won the election to be Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction by just 16,000 votes in 2014, or about 1 percentage point; four years later, she didn’t even make it out of the Republican primary, and a Democrat won Douglas’s seat by 3 percentage points.

McSally lost her bid for a Senate seat in 2018 by 2.4 percentage points, or about 56,000 votes, to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D). Sinema carried Maricopa County by 61,000 votes. After that election, McSally was appointed to fill the state’s other senate seat.

“Maricopa County is the problem,” Noble said. McSally “had a problem in the previous poll where she was down five, and now she’s down nine.”

Kelly leads virtually every key demographic group. He runs 5 points ahead of McSally among men, by 6 points among women, by 2 points among white voters and by 18 points among Hispanics. 

The poll shows few Arizonans are undecided about McSally; just 8 percent said they did not know enough about her to have formed an opinion. Among those who know her, 47 percent see her favorably, while 45 percent see her unfavorably.

Kelly, who is married to former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), has more room to introduce himself. Forty-two percent of voters see Kelly favorably, while just 25 percent see him unfavorably. Almost 1 in 3 voters, 31 percent, have yet to form an opinion.

McSally, of course, was appointed to the Senate by Arizona’s Republican Governor after Jon Kyl announced his retirement at the end of last year. Kyl had been appointed in the wake of the death of the late John McCain but at the time he had stated that he likely would not hold the seat until the next election and would not stand for election to the seat. Shortly after McSally lost a closely fought race to Krysten Sinema last year, Kyl announced his retirement and McSally was appointed in his stead. The election coming up in 2020 is to fill the remainder of McCain’s term, which is set to expire after the 2022 election, meaning that whoever wins the Special Election will have to run for re-election two years later. Kelly, the former astronaut, and husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords entered the race for the Democratic nomination in February and while he does face rivals for the nomination he is widely seen as the strongest candidate in that field.

So far, OH Predictive Insights is the only polling company that has surveyed the race and, while it is still far too early for polling such as this to tell us much of anything about the outcome, the fact that Kelly has overtaken McSally in the polls should be a sign of concern for Republicans. Along with Colorado, where Democrats got a boost today with the entry of former Governor John Hickenlooper into the race, Arizona is one of the states where Democrats have an excellent chance of picking up a seat from the GOP and this poll appears to indicate that Kelly is a particularly strong candidate for them to put forward. This will be a race well worth keeping an eye on over the course of the next fifteen months.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Teve says:

    Hickenlooper and Kelly help explain the NYT article I commented on in the Open Thread.

  2. Kathy says:

    It seems Mitch is afraid his party will lose the Senate next year.

    I won’t go off-topic and discuss the merits of the filibuster, there will be opportunities for that later. But it’s clear the polls are worrying Mitch. He knows a president cannot end, or for that matter enact, any sort of filibuster in the Senate.

  3. EddieInCA says:


    There is a new poll that shows Trump at 36% approval. This may be an outlier, but it also might be the start of another down move based on his increasingly erratic behavior, which has, OBVIOUSLY, gotten worse the last two weeks.

    If Trump gets down to the mid-30’s and stays there approaching 2020, the Senate will definitely be in play, dependent on who the Dems end up nominating. Mitch should be worried.

  4. EddieInCA says:

    Who will be the first Republican elected official to run against Trump. I thought McSally might, but if Trump continues to slide in his numbers, I can see a scenario where even GOP candidates try to survive by saying “I’m not him. Don’t hold him against Me.”

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:


    I can see a scenario where even GOP candidates try to survive by saying “I’m not him. Don’t hold him against Me.”

    That would never work in today’s GOP.

  6. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Charles Koch had an op ed in WAPO a week or so ago. I missed it until this evening. All about how politicians have failed with top down solutions so now it’s time to reply on bottom up. In other words, the government should start doing nothing. I had the same reaction to it you had to McConnell. He must be seeing some, to him, really scary polling.