Democrats continue to prepare for the 2020 elections with an increasing roster of candidates for races across the United States. Now, it appears increasingly possible that Arizonans could elect their second Democratic U.S. Senator in decades next year, after their first came in the midterm elections last year. A new OH Predictive poll measuring support in the state’s ongoing Senate race has former astronaut and Democrat Mark Kelly up over incumbent Republican Martha McSally by five percent, which is above the poll’s four percent margin of error.
Kelly is the husband of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who left office after she was shot at point-blank range. In the time since her survival, she has become a nationwide advocate for common-sense gun control. McSally, meanwhile, was the first female fighter pilot in combat for the Air Force, and she was appointed to her present position by Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey to fill out some of the late John McCain’s final term. She received that appointment after losing the race to occupy Arizona’s other Senate seat after Republican Jeff Flake declined to seek re-election.
Besides levels of support for each candidate, the OH Predictive poll also measured favorability ratings for each candidate. A full 47 percent of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of McSally, while 45 percent held an unfavorable one, giving her a favorability edge of just +2. Meanwhile, Kelly managed a favorable opinion from 44 percent, but only an unfavorable perception from 25 percent, giving him a favorability edge of a full +19. A full 31 percent of voters had no documented opinion of Kelly.
The 2020 election in which McSally and Kelly are competing is for the final two years of the six year term that McCain was serving when he died. The company’s chief of research Mike Noble says that the outcome of the race could, “depending on the national mood… determine control of the U.S. Senate in 2021.”
‘We are still in August 2019 and the Arizona Senate race is already exciting — expect the numbers to start moving when these two fundraising juggernauts start spending heavy and hard.’
The Senate map for these upcoming elections is moderately more favorable to Democrats than it was in the 2018 midterms, in which they scored a couple of victories but failed to overtake Republicans. At present, the Cook Political Report rates just one currently Democrat-held seat as a toss-up — that of Doug Jones in Alabama. Meanwhile, three Republican-held seats are rated as toss-ups, including McSally’s and those of Colorado’s Cory Gardner and Maine’s Susan Collins.
If they’re able to win each one of those three seats — and hold on to Jones’s — they would retake control of the Senate. Even if they won just three, making their hold 50 seats strong in the 100 member Senate, they could strike a power-sharing agreement with the GOP like emerged in the early 2000s with a 50-50 Senate and thereby raise their voice.
The presidential election could shape results in these lower-level races. If a widely popular Democrat beats Donald Trump, they could boost performance for lower-level Democrats. Leading Democrats continue to poll sometimes with as high as double-digit leading margins against Trump.
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