Poll shows Martha McSally in total control of Arizona GOP Senate primary

Aug 23, 2018, 2:48 PM | Updated: Aug 24, 2018, 1:28 pm

PHOENIX – With a heated campaign coming down the homestretch, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally’s lead in Arizona’s three-way Republican primary race for U.S. Senate appears insurmountable.

McSally was polling at 48.1 percent in results released Thursday by Phoenix-based consulting firm Data Orbital, more than doubling the 22.1 percent of her nearest rival, former state Sen. Dr. Kelli Ward.

“Here we are at the very end of the primary and the McSally camp must be thrilled because this is affirmation that her campaign tactic and strategy has paid off, and it’s go time for general election campaigning,” Valley political consultant Stan Barnes told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Barnes noted that the ad McSally released attacking Sinema is an indication the former Air Force pilot is confident that a primary win is at hand.

Meanwhile, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was bringing up the rear, as he has been the entire race, although he pulled closer to Ward with 17.6 percent.

“Sheriff Joe has been outspent and outworked, and his name ID has not been enough to rescue him in this primary,” Barnes said.

The undecideds were down to 8.4 percent in the polling of likely Republican voters conducted Tuesday and Wednesday. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent.

(Data Orbital)

Bottom line: It would take a major event before Tuesday’s primary election for McSally to lose the nomination, and even that might not matter with so many early votes being cast.

Among those surveyed, 39.9 percent said they’d already voted.

“There hasn’t been a single number that I’ve seen that has showed Kelli Ward up, and so I think that this is Martha McSally’s race,” George Khalaf, Data Orbital president, told KTAR.

“I think she’s won the nomination. Now it’s just a question of how wide of a margin does she win it by on election night.”

Barnes said he wouldn’t be surprised if McSally’s victory isn’t as overwhelming as the poll indicates.

“I believe that the race will actually be narrower in result than this poll shows,” Barnes said.

“I think voters are skeptical about polls. They’re skeptical about participating in polls, and polls are having more and more difficulty finding accuracy in the modern world.”

The Republican nominee will almost certainly square off against U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the runaway leader in the Democratic race, for the chance to replace Republican Jeff Flake, who didn’t run for re-election.

The seat is key for Democrats as they attempt to gain control of the Senate, and the race is expected to garner plenty of national attention — and financing.

If it’s McSally-Sinema in the general election, Arizona will elect its first female U.S. senator in November. The state hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1988.

The last time Data Orbital checked in on the Republican race, in June, McSally was at 38.2 percent, Ward 22.7 percent and Arpaio 16.6 percent, with 20.5 undecided.

Another polling firm, OH Predictive Insights, came out with a poll last week that showed McSally at 47 percent, Ward at 27 percent and Arpaio at 13 percent, with 12 percent undecided.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Kathy Cline and Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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Poll shows Martha McSally in total control of Arizona GOP Senate primary