Despite claims that the bid for the Republican nomination for Governor is a “two candidate race,” the fact is — the race hasn't really even started. The horses have barely left the gate and the Republicans appear to be waiting to see how they do down the stretch.
The first few days of early ballot returns in Maricopa County show that Republicans are taking their time to return their early ballots. Through the first few days of voting, only 27,193 Republicans have cast their vote — a 36% decline compared to a similar period of time in 2012.
While Republicans are holding on to their ballots, Independents are turning theirs in at a much higher rate. Through the first few days of voting, 3,925 Independents have cast a Republican Ballot. That is a 48% increase in participation over the same period in 2012.
Only time will tell if Independent returns stay at such a high level. However, based on an estimate of approximately 550,000 voters participating in the Republican primary, that would mean only 5.6% of the ballots have been cast. In comparison, more than 8.8% of the total ballots were cast in the first few days of the 2012 Republican Primary.
So, there are 94.4% of likely voters who still have a ballot in their hand. That certainly doesn't bode well for the “too late” narrative that some pundits have ascribed to Governor Jan Brewer's recent endorsement of Mayor Scott Smith.
The race for the Republican nomination for Governor remains wide open. Smith will have a big dose of Brewer momentum going into the home stretch.