New Poll Shows Arizona Republicans Ahead in Statewide Races

Mark Brnovich, seen here at a 2014 fundraiser in Scottsdale, has the lead in his re-election campaign for Arizona Attorney General.
Mark Brnovich, seen here at a 2014 fundraiser in Scottsdale, has the lead in his re-election campaign for Arizona Attorney General. Gage Skidmore/Flickr
Republican candidates are ahead in four of Arizona's down-ballot statewide races, according to a new poll that shows their leads ranging from moderate to commanding.

The contest for superintendent of public instruction is the only race where a Democrat is within striking distance of a Republican opponent.

The poll by ABC15 (KNXV-TV) and local polling firm OH Predictive Insights was conducted between October 1 and 2, surveying 600 likely general election voters on landlines and cell phones. KTAR first reported the results of the poll.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is pulling away from his Democratic challenger, January Contreras, the poll shows. Brnovich had 54 percent support compared to Contreras' 32 percent.

Meanwhile, in the race for state treasurer, Republican State Senator Kimberly Yee was ahead in the poll with 48 percent. Her Democratic competitor, Mark Manoil, has 33 percent. Nineteen percent were still undecided.

Printing magnate Steve Gaynor, another Republican, has the lead in the secretary of state's race.

Gaynor, after trouncing incumbent Secretary of State Michele Reagan in the August primary, enjoys 50 percent support compared to his opponent, Democratic State Senator Katie Hobbs, who came in with 36 percent.

In addition to overseeing Arizona elections, the secretary of state succeeds the governor in the event of a resignation, making this race even more consequential in light of persistent speculation that Governor Doug Ducey might stake a claim to a Senate seat in the near future, despite his repeated denials.

In the race for superintendent, Republican Frank Riggs, a former California congressman, has a small lead over Democrat Kathy Hoffman, a first-time candidate and speech therapist from Peoria. Riggs has 44 percent support to Hoffman's 39 percent.

OH Predictive Insights attributes the close race to lackluster support for Riggs among Republicans. Seventeen percent of those surveyed, however, are still undecided when it comes to selecting the next Arizona schools chief.

Like Reagan, incumbent Superintendent Diane Douglas lost in her Republican primary this summer.

OH chief pollster Mike Noble said that the brutal confirmation fight over Judge Brett Kavanaugh might have impacted the poll's results by bringing "those few Republicans that were kind of unhappy for whatever reason" back into the fold of the GOP.

"Now the big question: Will it hold?" Noble said in an interview on Tuesday.

The landmark Judiciary Committee testimony from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford – the professor who accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school – played out on television just a few days before the polling firm surveyed Arizona voters.

Republican candidates will be tied to President Trump during the midterm elections, Noble suggested, but they could benefit from the president's approval rating, which has inched up recently.

Whether Democratic enthusiasm amid opposition to Trump will lead to a "blue wave" in Arizona this fall remains an open question. But this poll raises doubts about whether a Democratic surge will flip Arizona's statewide elected offices blue beyond the open Senate seat currently held by Jeff Flake.

Most polls for that race show Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has maintained a small, but consistent lead over her Republican opponent, Martha McSally.

With the election a month away, time is running out for candidates to make their pitch to voters.

Tuesday is the last day to register to vote in Arizona, and ballots will be mailed to voters on the Permanent Early Voting List later this week.
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Joseph Flaherty is a staff writer at New Times. Originally from Wisconsin, he is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Contact: Joseph Flaherty