New Poll Out Of Arizona Gives Republicans Some Hope

A new poll out of Arizona gives Republicans some hope that they'll be able to dodge the possibility of Joe Arpaio or Kelli Ward winning a primary to fill an already vulnerable seat.

A new poll of the Republican primary in Arizona to fill the vacancy left by the impending retirement of Senator Jeff Flake is giving Republicans some hope that it may be able to dodge a bullet:

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) surged into first place with a commanding 14-point lead in Arizona’s closely watched GOP Senate primary, according to a new poll.

A poll conducted by Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights (OHPI) has McSally ahead with a little over 39 percent of the vote, followed by former state Sen. Kelli Ward at 24.5 percent and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio trailing far behind at nearly 14 percent. About 22 percent of voters remain undecided.

This is a big shift since OHPI’s last poll from April, which had Ward in first place and leading McSally by 9 points in the race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake. Arizona will hold its primary on Aug. 28.

Mike Noble, OHPI’s chief pollster, said McSally’s rise can be attributed to her improved name recognition and willingness to cast herself as an ally of President Trump.

“McSally is starting to tell her story, she’s flush with cash, and she benefited from her pivot to embrace Trump. That all puts her in the driver’s seat – or should I say the cockpit?” Noble said.

“With only 22.4 percent of voters undecided in the GOP primary and early voting approximately 40 days away, expect the attacks to start flying as the candidates ratchet up the pressure.”

Tuesday’s poll found McSally, who’s represented her Tucson-area swing seat since 2015, is leading her GOP challengers in both Maricopa and Pima counties as well in more rural parts of the state.

McSally is also ahead of her opponents among the different ideological bases of likely GOP primary voters. The congresswoman leads Ward by more than 10 points among voters that consider themselves Trump Republicans. McSally also dominates among support from moderate voters, 43 percent to 16 percent over Ward.

The Arizona race is notable, of course, because it is one of the Republican seats deemed to be vulnerable to a potential Democratic pick-up in November. The likelihood of such a pickup would certainly be more likely if one of McSally’s opponents, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio or Arizona State Senator Kelli Ward, ended up winning the primary to face off against likely Democratic nominee Kyrsten Sinema, Congresswoman who has represented the state’s 9th Congressional District since 2012. To be sure, the seat would still be vulnerable even if Congresswoman McSally ends up winning the nomination, especially given the fact that head-to-head polling of a Sinema v. McSally race has shown Sinema leading quite comfortably. although it’s worth noting that the last General Election poll was taken back in April.

In any case, the fear among Republicans continues to be that either Arpaio or Ward will win the nomination and thereby not only make the seat more vulnerable than it already is, but also potentially put national Republicans on the spot for past comments that they have made. This is especially true for Arpaio, who has a long and controversial history as Sheriff of Maricopa County and who was once allied with Donald Trump among those questioning former President Obama’s citizenship. In fact, Arpaio recently returned to that issue and suggested that he could seek to investigate that matter further if he became a Senator. For a time, this fear was enhanced by the concern that the state’s senior Senator, John McCain, could have been forced to vacate his seat before June 1st, thus resulting in a Special Election in November that either Ward or Arpaio would jump into, thus avoiding the current situation where the two candidates seem to be dividing the hardcore Trumpidian base of the GOP and giving McSally the lead. That didn’t happen, of course, and due to a legislative change, a vacancy in McCain’s seat now would allow the Governor to appoint an interim Senator who would serve until the end of McCain’s current term in 2022. That means that McSally will continue to face off against two candidates that are basically dividing the same group of voters between them. If that continues, then she could very well pull of a primary win at the end of August and give the Republican Party at least some hope of holding on to the seat.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Congress, Public Opinion Polls, Quick Takes, 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

Comments

  1. James Pearce says:

    A poll conducted by Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights (OHPI) has McSally ahead with a little over 39 percent of the vote, followed by former state Sen. Kelli Ward at 24.5 percent and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio trailing far behind at nearly 14 percent.

    Minus Sheriff Jackass, McSally would be running away with this.

  2. CSK says:

    Interesting that Arpaio is trailing so badly, given that he’s an arch-Trumpkin. But McSally has surged ahead because she’s embraced Trump? The two things don’t compute. Perhaps it’s just Arpaio’s age–86–that’s giving even his supporters pause.

    OT, but the Wall street Journal is reporting that Michael Cohen is unhappy that Trump hasn’t offered to pay his legal bills. What is Cohen saying here? “Pony up or I’ll rat you out, boss”?

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  3. HarvardLaw92 says:

    It becomes a question of which candidate the Dems should spend money supporting.

    Sharron Angle rides again 🙂

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  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Speaking of McCain…a former aide, Steve Schmidt, has grown a spine. Will anyone else in the Republican party grow one?
    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/steve-schmidt-renounces-republican-party

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  5. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Or Todd Akin.

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  6. Kylopod says:

    McSally ahead with a little over 39 percent of the vote, followed by former state Sen. Kelli Ward at 24.5 percent and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio trailing far behind at nearly 14 percent. About 22 percent of voters remain undecided.

    In other words, Ward’s and Arpaio’s combined vote (largely constituting the far-right bloc) is basically neck-and-neck with McSally’s.

    McSally’s good fortune is that she has more than one rival to her right, and so her opposition is divided up. It’s similar to the dynamics of the 2012 presidential race as opposed to 2016. In 2012, Mitt Romney had the “establishment” lane basically all to himself (especially after the implosions of Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry), while he had a string of right-wing rivals who ended up more or less canceling one another out. At one point Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum even considered teaming up to take on Romney, but it quickly fell apart.

    In 2016, on the other hand, the “establishment” group was just as cluttered as the right-wingers had been in the previous cycle. People who wanted an “establishment”-friendly candidate had to choose among Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Chris Christie, and more. There were some real divisions on the right, too–particularly between Cruz and Trump–but it was better defined, and when it came down to Trump vs. anti-Trump, Trump benefited enormously from the divisions among his rivals. According to a poll taken in Feb. 2016, when primary voters were asked to choose between Trump and Rubio, or between Trump and Cruz, either Cruz or Rubio beat Trump by double digits. In other words, the voters strongly preferred someone other than Trump to Trump–but because the former category was more divided, it enabled Trump to win. A similar dynamic was at work in 2012, except in that case it benefited the establishment: it was “Mitt Romney vs. not-Mitt Romney.” Fortunately for McSally, she seems to be facing more of a 2012-like situation.

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  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Mike Noble, OHPI’s chief pollster, said McSally’s rise can be attributed to her improved name recognition and willingness to cast herself as an ally of President Trump. [emphasis added]

    Now someb0dy tell me about all those good Republicans out there that are opposed to Trump and striving desperately to rescue their party from the bad guys again. Go ahead… I’ll wait while to go to TAC to get your talking points.