For months, Arizona Senate candidate Mark Kelly has enjoyed a wide lead over incumbent Martha McSally in one of the nation's most closely-watched races. But a recent survey now shows McSally is catching up.
The poll, conducted by the Phoenix-based research group OH Predictive Insights, shows McSally trailing the former astronaut by only five percent. As the survey notes, Kelly led his Republican opponent by nine points just last month and by 13 points in May.
#AZPOP #POLL: #AZSEN candidate Mark Kelly continues to lead Martha McSally among Independent voters, but by a smaller margin according to the latest @OHPredictive #AZPOP poll— OHPI (@OHPredictive) August 11, 2020
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Although McSally’s chances are looking up, it’s not because her support has increased. Instead, the number of voters backing Kelly has dropped from 52 percent to 48 percent. That’s the first time since March that his support has fallen below the halfway mark.
A key reason for Kelly’s decline is the negative campaign advertising being pushed by the McSally camp and Republican organizations. The National Republican Senatorial Committee recently purchased a $5.7 million television ad highlighting Kelly’s business ties with China. It suggests that a Chinese tech company called Tencent, which invested in an Arizona-based commercial space exploration venture Kelly helped create in 2014, uses its connections with World View and other U.S. companies to steal U.S. space technology. It also suggests that Kelly’s financial gains from Chinese investments have made him a sell-out for China and a defender of their actions against the U.S. and the world, according to a report by ABC15.
“The spending by McSally and the NRSC over the past few months seems to have started taking its toll on Mark Kelly’s relatively high favorability,” OHPI Chief Mike Noble said in a press release, “something the McSally campaign desperately needed given her own ever-decreasing favorability numbers.”
Another boost for McSally appears to come from Independent voters. In July, Kelly dominated Independents 59 percent to McSally’s 32 percent. That lead has since dropped by 12 points, bringing his lead to 47 percent to 34 percent.
The erosion of Kelly’s Independent supporters is an intriguing trend that could make a big difference in November, according to Jacob Joss, a data analyst for OHPI.
“If McSally continues on her current flight path, she has a shot at winning this election,” Joss predicted.
McSally’s comeback is just the latest reason for Arizona conservatives to feel optimistic. Last week’s primary elections showed that conservative values can defeat unprecedented spending by outside PACs and overcome Democrats' legal games. Despite liberal claims that Arizona has turned purple, the battle for the Grand Canyon State is far from over.