U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly holds a double-digit lead over his Republican challenger, venture capitalist Blake Masters, in a poll released Wednesday by Marist College.
The poll of 1,260 registered Arizona voters found that Kelly, a Democrat, is favored by 51% of respondents to only 41% who said they plan to vote for Masters. Among those who said they “definitely” will vote this year, Kelly’s lead shrinks to five points, 50% to 45%.
The poll was conducted between Sept. 19 and 22, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points. Respondents were interviewed by live phone callers, via text message or online, in both English and Spanish.
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“You have a Republican Senate candidate who is unpopular against a Democratic incumbent who is popular, who is therefore otherwise offsetting a Republican advantage,” Lee Miringoff, director of Marist Institute for Public Opinion, said during a call with reporters Wednesday.
Kelly has raised tens of millions more in campaign funds than Masters. Kelly’s lead is outside the poll’s margin of error when it comes to registered voters, but is inside that margin for definite voters.
Kelly is leading Masters despite what Miringoff called a “Republican tide” in Arizona this year, with more Republican registered voters and more party members who are definitely planning to cast a ballot, according to the poll.
Masters won a crowded primary election contest, surging to the front after earning former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. In the run up to the August primary, Masters regularly touted Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was marred by fraud. But since becoming the GOP nominee, he has scrubbed his website of references to the unfounded claim that 2020 elections were rigged.
Kelly, who describes himself as a moderate but usually votes along party lines, is a former Navy combat pilot and astronaut who was elected in 2020 to fill the remainder of the late John McCain’s term. He is the husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011.
The Marist poll demonstrates Masters’ unpopularity, with 32% of voters saying they have a favorable opinion of him and 48% with an unfavorable opinion. Around 47% of voters have a favorable opinion of Kelly compared to 39% who have an unfavorable one, according to the poll.
Kelly has a significant edge when it comes to women and independent voters, with 51% of independents favoring Kelly over 34% for Masters. Women heavily back Kelly over Masters, at 55% to 35%.
The same poll shows a neck-and-neck race for governor between Trump-endorsed Republican Kari Lake and Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Lake leads Hobbs in the poll by one point, 46% to 45%. Hobbs has a two-point lead over Lake when it comes to independent voters, but all of those numbers are within the poll’s margin of error.
“The governor’s race is still very much up in the air,” Miringoff said.
Overall, both have a 39% favorability rating. Around 36% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of Hobbs, while 43% have an unfavorable opinion of Lake.
When it comes to all candidates running for Congress, Arizona Republicans have a four point lead over Democrats, according to the Marist poll.
“Ticket-splitting between Democrat Kelly for Senate and Republican Lake for governor is mostly occurring in vote-rich Maricopa County,” Miringoff said in a statement. “The Democratic candidates for Senate and governor are both carrying Pima County, while both Republican candidates lead in the rest of the state.”
While many high-profile Republican candidates in Arizona — including Lake and Masters — have sown mistrust of the state’s election system throughout this election cycle, the poll found that 69% of respondents were confident or very confident that the upcoming election will be fair and accurate. However, there is a striking split between Democrats and Republicans on this issue, with 87% of Democratic voters confident in the election process as opposed to 61% of Republicans.
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