Astronaut Mark Kelly maintains commanding lead among key “swing” demographics that lead Sinema to victory two years ago.
Contact: Paul Bentz, 602-528-3684
PHOENIX (October 7, 2020) – On the day that millions of ballots are mailed to voters throughout the State of Arizona, Senator Martha McSally faces nearly a seven point deficit to her challenger Astronaut Mark Kelly and less than a month to close the gap. In the same statewide live caller survey that shows a much more competitive Presidential match-up, Kelly continues to lead – maintaining a 50.0% to 43.5% advantage over the appointed Senator.
In 2018, McSally lost to Sinema by nearly 60,000 votes with HighGround’s final polling demonstrating that late deciding females, independents, and other key demographics were all breaking toward the state’s now-senior senator. Two years later, Kelly is holding on to similar leads among these key constituencies as well as a commanding lead in the state’s most populous county.
According to the latest polling, Kelly leads McSally among independent and unaffiliated votes 50.0% to 36.2% and among female voters 54.6% to 39.6%. He also leads in Maricopa County with 51.6% to 40.8% – a much more sizable margin than Biden’s lead in the survey research that was released yesterday. If Maricopa County experiences a surge in voter turnout this race will be over on election night.
“By and large, the well-funded efforts to reframe Mark Kelly as anything besides a public servant have fallen flat,” said Paul Bentz, Senior Vice President – Research and Strategy at HighGround Inc., “Like Sinema before him, he has narrated a disciplined campaign avoiding the progressive partisan label and staying relatively quiet on a variety of hot button partisan issues. He has created a very attractive profile for the approximately 300,000 ticket splitting voters who will begin to cast ballots this week.”
McSally enjoys strong support in Rural Arizona with a 61.7% to 29.7% edge over Kelly, a similar margin to the President who is winning that same cohort with 60.5% to 29.6% over Biden. However, McSally is lagging overall with 75.7% Republican support – nearly 11 points fewer than Donald Trump amongst Republicans. McSally also faces a 38.5% approval rating, nearly 9 points lower than Trump.
“The dominant narrative for most of this campaign continues to be that alignment with President Trump is pulling McSally down among ‘swing voters.’ And while both may have challenges with those audiences, that is not the only problem McSally faces,” said Chuck Coughlin, President & CEO of HighGround Inc., “Mark Kelly is bringing home more than 92 percent of Democrats while McSally cannot say the same about her base. Combined with abysmal approval ratings, she has a canyon separating her from victory in November.”
“Two years ago, Arizona voted Republican Doug Ducey for Governor and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema for Senate. Sinema clearly laid a narrative path for other Democrats to follow if they want to succeed in Arizona,” Coughlin explained, “The spirit of John McCain still lingers in Arizona – reminding voters that while extremely partisan candidates may succeed in a primary, they struggle to win an Arizona General Election.”
Coughlin concluded, “If Kelly wins in November, Republicans will get another opportunity in 2022 to see if they can learn from their past mistakes. Arizona Democrats have not controlled both United States Senate seats since 1952. As Senator McCain was fond of saying, ‘It’s always darkest before it’s totally black.’”
About the Survey
The N=400 survey was conducted among likely voters 9/28 through 10/5. The poll surveyed likely Arizona 2020 General Election voters who have a history of electoral participation and was balanced to model the likely turnout of voters across party, age, region, and gender.
The live interview survey of voters was conducted by HighGround Public Affairs to both landline and cell phone users. The partisan advantage was set at +3% GOP based on previous election trends, including the uptick in Democratic participation in the August primary, and expected Presidential Election turnout. The margin of error is ±4.9%.
The HighGround team has built a reputation of reliable and accurate polling over the past ten years – our research has been featured on Nate Silver’s 538, Real Clear Politics, Huffington Post, and many other publications. Paul Bentz was named back to back winner of “Best Pollster” by the Arizona Capitol Times.