Politics

Poll: McSally Leads by Double Digits in Arizona Senate Primary

Republican representative opens up big lead against Ward, Arpaio

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., leads in the GOP primary race for Sen. Jeff Flake’s senate seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Martha McSally has opened up a big lead in the Republican primary to replace retiring Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The poll shows McSally leading the race by a 14-point margin over her two Republican opponents, former Arizona state senator Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

McSally has the support of 39 percent of likely voters according to the poll. Ward received 25 percent support from respondents and 14 percent selected Arpaio. Twenty-three percent said they were still undecided.

The wide lead for McSally marks a major turnaround for the congresswoman, who entered the race in January after Flake opened up the seat by announcing his retirement in October.

Democrats are targeting the Arizona Senate seat, which is viewed as one of the most vulnerable for Republicans heading into November. Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales rates the race a Toss-up. The eventual Republican nominee will likely face Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in the general election.

McSally is seen as a more moderate alternative to her hard-line Republican opponents. Her campaign emphasizes that the “balance of power in Washington” will come down to the Arizona senate race, and says McSally has what it takes to win.

Wary of the challenge from her right, McSally has also sought to align herself with President Donald Trump, including defending him against criticism from Flake. Forty percent of Trump-aligned voters currently support McSally, according to this week’s poll.

Ward unsuccessfully challenged Sen. John McCain for his seat in 2016.

Arpaio has won support on the right for his controversial opposition to illegal immigration and reputation for harsh law enforcement tactics. He became famous for setting up “tent cities” for inmates in Maricopa County jails and engineering aggressive crackdowns on people suspected of immigrating illegally.

Arpaio’s run follows a pardon by President Donald Trump after he was convicted for defying a court order in a racial profiling case.

OH Predictive Insights, a Phoenix-based research company, polled 600 Republican likely voters from June 11-12. The results carry a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

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