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Tipsheet

Dems in Full Panic Mode As Arizona's Senate Seat Might Be Slipping Away

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) looked miserable this summer, conceding that the Republican Party was unlikely to regain control of the Senate, citing candidate quality issues as the 2022 primary season wrapped up. The Kentucky Republican wasn’t happy that Trump-backed candidates were winning their contests. It also showed the D.C. GOP establishment that Trump was still very much the leader of the party. In Arizona, the media and the political class largely ignored the state as a “safe” race for the Democrats. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) was stuffing his war chest, but a lot can happen in a month.

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Post-Labor Day polls have Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters, seen as less than desirable by the establishment, within a few points of Kelly. With all the recent polls averaged, Kelly is only head by 2.5 points—too close for comfort for most in the Democratic Party’s operative class. Master is surging, as is the rest of the GOP, ahead of the 2022 midterms. And it’s not just Arizona. Nevada is also seeing their Democratic incumbent governor and U.S. Senator—Catherine Cortez Masto—have their re-election chances imperiled due to a less than enthusiastic Latino voter base that’s none too pleased with the economic recession. The lack of labor union support is also glaring. As it turns out, the West was flank that the Democratic Party didn’t shore up—and now it’s too late to start stacking sandbags (via Politico):

National and Arizona Democratic operatives are privately fretting that incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly is endangered, noting a shift by previously undecided voters toward the GOP, aided by a patchwork of new Republican spending to bolster Masters. Recent polling has shown Kelly’s lead shrinking to a few points, much tighter than surveys showed throughout August and September.

 “There’s a very narrow path to victory for Democrats in Arizona,” said Roy Herrera, a Democratic election attorney and consultant in the state. “Any poll that shows the Democrats are doing any better than the low or mid-single digits is probably not accurate, or won’t be maintained through the election cycle.”

After Masters’ poor performance in post-primary polling, many observers appeared to conclude that the 36-year-old venture capitalist was a longshot to unseat Kelly, a former astronaut with a formidable fundraising operation.

A Democrat close to the Kelly campaign said Arizona should never have been considered “safe” for the party this year — even as Masters struggled earlier in the general election.

“We believe this is a race that’s within a point in either direction, and there’s still a good chance that we would lose,” the person said. “And it’s important people understand that.”

[…]

Polling over the last month — including this past week — has shown Masters gaining ground. A nonpartisan poll conducted last week by HighGround, an Arizona firm, found Masters less than 3 points behind Kelly.

One of the biggest shifts seen since this summer is older voters moving to Masters, said Chuck Coughlin, CEO of HighGround. Just after the Aug. 2 primary — a bitter Republican contest — voters 65 and older “were all over the map,” Coughlin said. In the firm’s most recent poll, many of those voters were committed to the GOP, which is consistent with historic precedent.

And while Kelly led with women by 20 percentage points in the firm’s polling just after the primary, that lead has fallen to 10 points, Coughlin said. Masters, meanwhile, has a 10-point lead with men.

The economic recession, the high inflation, the fiasco at the southern border, and the accompanying crime wave all push undecided voters into the GOP. That’s what we see in Arizona, at least. While not many are left—undecided voters—those that remain drifting towards the Republicans could mean a pink slip for Kelly—and Democratic strategists know this. They’re firing off red flares: Arizona’s race is a one-point race that can go either way. 
 

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It’s what makes the DC internal squabbles so frustrating. Perhaps Masters could be two or three points ahead of Kelly if the establishment didn’t dither on resource allocation. The Democrats ran the table on fundraising over the summer while Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, vacationed on a luxury yacht in Italy. Peter Thiel and other pro-Trump PACs have invested significant resources into Arizona to compensate for the lack of GOP funds, but petty arguments crippled this process. Luckily, the new injection of cash, Masters’ decent debate performances, and the Democrats' overall incompetence at governing have significantly improved the playing field. Let’s see if Masters can pull it off.

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