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.