The country’s most famous sheriff, Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, has served in his position for 23 years. He’s been elected six consecutive times by his constituents. However, a new poll by the Arizona Republic may have Sheriff Arpaio sweating.
A poll conducted by Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite has Arpaio trailing his democratic challenger, Paul Penzone, by almost 15 points: 45.9 percent to 31.1 percent.
The shock poll was conducted amid federal prosecutors’ announcement that they would be filing a criminal contempt charge against Arpaio for racial profiling. While always being a controversial figure, analysts believe the recent negative press is damaging Arpaio’s reelection hopes.
The incumbent sheriff’s team has countered that the poll is flawed and their own internal polling shows him beating Penzone by eight points. They claim Arizona Republic’s method included respondents who are not as likely to vote.
When looking at Arpaio’s past election results, the status of this campaign may not be completely surprising. While winning fairly easily, Arpaio has steadily lost ground every four years. In 2000 he won by a spread of 40 points. In 2004 he won by 26 points. In 2008 he won by 13. And in his latest in 2012, he only won reelection by six points.
This trend should be daunting for Team Arpaio.
There is still good news for the famous sheriff. He touts name recognition even some national candidates wish they could have. Arpaio has raised $1.2 million this election cycle. That’s a jaw dropping amount for just a county sheriff and it’s four times more than his challenger, Penzone.
Sheriff Joe needs to start spending. Quickly.