Polling shows Democrats ahead on Arizona statewide generic ballots

Jul 17, 2018, 12:22 PM | Updated: Jul 19, 2018, 6:48 pm

PHOENIX – For decades, the best way to win a statewide election in Arizona has been to have an R by your name on the ballot.

Despite that, pundits in recent years have been predicting a shift in Grand Canyon State politics, citing the growing Latino population. But it hasn’t yet come to fruition at the voting booth.

Is 2018 the year that changes?

According to a recent Politico/AARP polling, Democrats were ahead of Republicans by 7 points in the generic ballots for the governor and U.S. Senate races.

That backed up other recent polls which showed Democrat Kyrsten Sinema as the front-runner in the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Jeff Flake and Democrat David Garcia with a slight edge over Republican incumbent Doug Ducey in the gubernatorial race.

A lot can happen between now and the November general election, however, especially in a state that’s been a GOP stronghold for so long.

For example:

• Arizona hasn’t elected a Democratic U.S. senator since 1988, Dennis DeConcini’s last race before he retired.

• Janet Napolitano, who won in 2002 and 2006, was the only Democrat elected governor since 1982. (Rose Mofford served as governor from 1988 to ’91, but she had been secretary of state and took over after Evan Mecham’s impeachment; she didn’t run for re-election).

• Bill Clinton in 1996 was the last Democrat to take Arizona in a presidential election.

• The last Democratic secretary of state, Richard Mohoney, left office in 1995.

Based on its polling, Politico did a deep exploration of Latinos’ historical influence on Arizona politics and how it is evolving.

The polling showed that Arizona voters ages 50 and older are far more likely to vote for Republicans.

But while the demographics seem to support the idea that Arizona could turn blue, Chuck Coughlin, the president and CEO of HighGround, Inc. told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Chad Benson Show that it will all come down to turnout.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm on the partisan left within the electorate and a lot of them are pumping the tires on that noise right now and trying to say this is possible,” he said.

“But the reality is, in a gubernatorial election cycle, roughly about 750,000 fewer Arizonans vote than they do in a presidential cycle,” Coughlin added, explaining that this historically has turned the electorate “much more Republican,” with the party having a 12 to 13 point participation advantage over the Democrats.

“It’s much more difficult to do.”

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Polling shows Democrats ahead on Arizona statewide generic ballots