Ann Kirkpatrick is tied with John McCain in a new poll among state voters with an opinion about the upcoming U.S. Senate election.
The Democratic congresswoman from Arizona's District One still has an uphill battle, though, according to Earle de Berge, whose company, Behavior Research Center, conducts the Rocky Mountain Poll. In a summary of the poll's findings, de Berge suggests that Kirkpatrick appears to have a real chance at victory over the powerful incumbent Senator, but she needs to "define" herself before her well-funded enemies do.
McCain's been elected to the Senate four times since 1986 and is one of the country's most powerful politicians. But, as the poll shows, Kirkpatrick is increasingly popular with Hispanics, young voters, and independents.
The survey, conducted between January 7 and 17, shows that 37 percent of voters would pick Kirkpatrick while 38 percent would choose McCain — a statistical dead heat. A large percentage of the electorate remains undecided, but it's those on-the-fence voters that Kirkpatrick has been reaching.
While McCain's numbers have increased by 1 percent since a similar poll in November, Kirkpatrick saw a 6 percent jump.
But Kirkpatrick shouldn't squander her momentum, de Berge writes in the poll summary. She can't wait until after the August 30 primary to get her message out, he states, but needs to define herself before "the powerful and well-funded campaigns of McCain and GOP-leaning super pacts start to run commercials to define her in negative ways."
Federal campaign-finance data shows Kirkpatrick had about $850,000 on hand as of the end of December. McCain had just under $5 million, according to his October quarterly finance report.
"This poll is the latest proof that John McCain is in for the fight of his political career," said D.B. Mitchell, Kirkpatrick's campaign representative. "Arizonans have seen McCain change after three decades in Washington, and now they’re ready for a senator who will always stand up for working families and put our state first."