The Democratic National Committee (DNC) realizes that its party will need to do a lot of heavy lifting if, in November, Democrats hope to achieve a majority in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate. But one race that Democrats finds themselves feeling increasingly optimistic about is the one in Arizona, where Democrat Mark Kelly (a retired astronaut) has been leading incumbent Sen. Martha McSally in poll after poll.
And a new poll by Arizona Public Opinion Pulse/OH Predictive Insights poll is one of the worst yet for McSally: it found Kelly with a 9% lead.
An OH Predictive Insights poll released in March found the centrist Kelly leading McSally by 7%, and in December 2019, an OH poll found Kelly ahead by 3%. The pattern in OH polls shows the centrist Kelly continuing to expand his lead over McSally, a devout supporter of President Donald Trump — at least for now.
According to Mike Noble, the chief of research for the Phoenix-based OH, "McSally's path to victory is difficult, but not impossible. She needs to expand her base outside of Trump's base of support by winning over women, independents, Latinos and suburban voters in Maricopa County."
McSally has never actually won a U.S. Senate race in Arizona, where in 2018, she was defeated by centrist Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — who now holds the seat once held by former Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who became frustrated with Trumpism and decided not to seek re-election in 2018. But McSally was later appointed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to the seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain and, before that, Sen. Barry Goldwater. Although Goldwater lost badly to Democratic Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 presidential election, he was quite popular in Arizona — and McCain proudly described himself as a "Goldwater Republican" or a "Goldwater conservative."
If Kelly defeats McSally in November, Arizona will end up with two Democratic U.S. senators — which is downright shocking for those who remember the decades in which Arizona was considered a deep red state and was closely identified with the Goldwater/McCain school of conservatism. But in recent years, Arizona has evolved into a swing state — and Democratic strategists believe that former Vice President Joe Biden has a good shot at carrying Arizona in the 2020 presidential race. Trump carried Arizona in 2016, but only by a narrow margin.