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Public schools chief Diane Douglas leads divided field in GOP primary poll

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PHOENIX — A poll of likely Republican primary voters in Arizona gave Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas a comfortable enough lead overall in a crowded but divided field, boosted by people who chose President Donald Trump.

Mike Noble of Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday, when the poll was released, “Her strength is with Trump loyalists, that gives her the edge.”

Douglas pulled in 14.5 percent of the 600 surveyed over two days earlier this week. Jonathan Gelbart, a first-time candidate, was her closest rival with 7 percent.

But the big number was among undecideds, taking up 64.5 percent.

That wasn’t unusual, Noble, chief pollster and managing partner, said. He expected those numbers to go down as the election, scheduled for Aug. 28, drew closer.

Poll respondents were broken down by ideology The biggest groups identified as Trump Republicans, who made up 33.5 percent; Christian conservatives were next at 28.7 percent. Moderates came in with 24.3 percent. No other group was in double figures.

Douglas publicly supported Trump during the presidential election.

“Douglas is clearly winning because of her base support … but among moderates she’s not doing as well,” Noble said.

“To win a Republican primary, especially here in Arizona, you have to really play to the Trump crowd. You can play to the moderate end but there, frankly, are just more social conservatives and Trump conservatives than there are moderates.”

Two Democrats have announced their candidacy for the job — David Schapira and Kathy Hoffman.

The poll was conducted by phone and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

Douglas was elected in November 2014.

During her tenure, she has feuded with the Arizona Board of Education and disagreed with Gov. Doug Ducey over personnel matters.

Before the recent teachers’ walkout, Douglas said teachers who left their classrooms could face repercussions.

She supported the 20 percent pay increase, legislation that Ducey signed after six days of walkouts.

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