Joe Arpaio on the Run from Paul Penzone, Mike Stauffer the Goat in New Poll (w/Update)

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See also: Stauffer Must Exit Sheriff's Race or Forever Be the Goat See also: Mike Stauffer's Third-Wheel Bid for Sheriff May Keep Arpaio in Office See also: Joe Arpaio Stooge Mike Stauffer a "Republican Candidate," Writes West Kenyon, Campaign Manager See also: Joe Arpaio-Wannabe Mike Stauffer Flips Out, Calls Non-Threat "Vaguely Threatening"

A new poll of 850 likely Maricopa County voters done on September 10, shows Sheriff Joe Arpaio below 50 percent, barely leading Democratic challenger Paul Penzone by a mere 5.5 points, 44.5 percent to 39 percent. This, according to information provided by the pollster.

The automated telephone survey, performed by the D.C. firm Switchboard Communications and commissioned by the Penzone camp, shows a plus or minus 4 percent margin of error, and notes that, "the sample consists of self-identified voters at 41.3% Republican, 33.5%, Democrat, 22.8% Independent, and 2.4% Other."

Read Switchboard's press release on its new poll of Maricopa County voters on the race for sheriff.

Notably, Switchboard's survey was done after the U.S. Attorney's Office for Arizona announced that it was dropping the criminal investigation into wrongdoing by Arpaio and the MCSO. One would have anticipated Joe's good news to give him a bump.

But the poll shows Arpaio's favorability rating in the dumps, with 46.7 percent of respondents having a somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable view of the sheriff.

Stephen Hill, a partner at Switchboard, described the gap between Arpaio and Penzone as volatile.

"It could be made up in the weeks ahead," Hill said of Penzone's chances of narrowing the gap.

But Hill noted that Arpaio also could use his sizable warchest to help him stretch out his lead.

The bad news: Independent candidate Mike Stauffer is turning out, as I've predicted, to be a massive, bleating goat. A summary provided by the pollster shows Stauffer garnering around 8.2 percent of the vote, just below "none of the above" at about 8.3 percent.

Fourth, with a bullet!

Hill noted that Stuaffer supporters were not inclined to vote for Joe.

And if Stauffer was not in the race or withdrew? It seems obvious that most of them, were they to vote, would vote for Penzone.

So much for the argument that Independent voters will vote Independent and give Stauffer some sort of edge. Instead, the race shapes up as a close one, with the Patton Oswalt-lookalike from Scottsdale coming in third as the spoiler.

Still, Penzone's in a good place, according to this poll, nipping at Arpaio's heels, coming for Joe's job, invading the old man'sdreams, threatening to destroy the octogenarian's already-tattered reputation

Bottom line, despite the loony naysayers, Penzone has a solid shot at booting Arpaio off the 19th Floor of the Wells Fargo Building. That sound you hear is Joe's sweat hitting his office floor.

Summary from Switchboard, and proof positive Stauffer's a goat:

Paul Penzone 331 votes, 38.94%

Joe Arpaio 378 votes, 44.47%

Mike Stauffer 70 votes, 8.24%

None of Above: 71 votes, 8.35%

Total: 850 votes

UPDATE 4:47PM: The Republic's Laurie Roberts finds fault with the percentages of D's, I's, and R's that this new poll uses, as you can see from her Facebook post, below.

I'm guessing that in reference to the undercount and overcount, she's comparing the percentages used by Switchboard to registration figures.

Just because someone is registered doesn't mean they will show up to vote, however.

Maricopa County elections said they didn't have turnout figures readily available for the last presidential race in 2008. So I asked folks at the Arizona Democratic Party if they could access the party's voter file and get me those numbers, while I wait for the county to get back to me.

These are the general election turnout numbers the Dems had for the county in 2008:

442,741 (31.78%) Democrats 588,755 (42.27%) Republicans 361,436 (25.95%) Indy's, Greens, and Libertarians 1,392,932 Total

I'm told these numbers are close, though not an exact match to the Arizona Secretary of State's turnout numbers, because of people moving and other factors.

As you can see, the difference between these numbers and the ones used by Switchboard is only a couple of points. Assuming they're accurate, Roberts' undercount/overcount point may not be that significant.

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