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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

AZ-Sen: Pederson (D) Gains Ground on Kyl... But Why?

Posted by James L.

Riddle me this...

SUSA has a new poll on the Arizona senate race showing some pretty surprising mo' for Democratic challenger Jim "Uncle Moneybags" Pederson (likely voters, July in parens):

Jim Pederson (D): 43 (40)
Jon Kyl (R): 48 (52)
MoE: ± 4.3%

So how, exactly, does a race that's only been competitive in the fantasy world of Zogby Interactive, with an incumbent Senator whose approval rating has been trending upward in the last few months (admittedly, 53% isn't stellar, but it's fairly solid), and a challenger who's been swamping the airwaves with TV ads for over five months to little noticeable effect in the polls, suddenly tighten to a five-point margin?

I'll be damned if I know. But I won't complain if this isn't an outlier:

Kyl gets 81% of Republican votes. Pederson gets 79% of Democrat votes. Independents break 5:3 for Pederson. Kyl leads by 13 points among White voters. Pederson leads by 16 points among Hispanic voters, who make up 16% of the Arizona electorate in SurveyUSA's turnout model.

Those are some rock-solid indie numbers for Pederson. In July, Pederson trailed Kyl by 10 points among independents. Why the sudden and dramatic conversion?

As an aside, Kerry edged Bush by 13 points among Latino voters in Arizona in 2004, which was a nine point improvement for Bush over 2000, according to CNN's exit polls. I'd like to think and hope that Pederson can post some better numbers from this community against a reactionary like Kyl. The long-term success of the Democratic Party may hinge on maintaining and solidifying a strong political association in this emerging voter bloc.

Update: The Phoenix Business Journal offers a hypothesis:

That spread is tighter than most previous polls and comes after a barrage of advertisements by Pederson faulting Kyl for failure to support a minimum wage hike and for being too cozy with oil and pharmaceutical companies.

A few weeks ago, I heard that the DSCC had earmarked something in the ballpark of $1.6m for this race. At the time, I thought that move was crazy, but if this poll is accurate (check out the comments section for some healthy skepticism), maybe it isn't such a bad idea after all.

Posted at 10:45 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Arizona | Technorati

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One weird thing though with this poll is that it shows both Napolitano and Pederson with leads in the Metro Phoenix area, while it shows Kyl and the other dude with leads in Tuscon. I thought the common wisdom was that Tuscon (and Pima County) are the Democratic stronghold of the state (along with the highly competitive AZ-08 contest) while Phoenix (and Maricopa County) are the Republican stronghold. Anyone else perplexed by this?

Posted by: KainIIIC [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2006 12:43 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Bad poll? Or maybe Pederson's just pouring it on in the spending.

Posted by: bosdcla14 [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2006 01:25 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kain, it sounds like the kind of obvious screw-up in the polling that should give the pollster pause in releasing it to the public so as not to mislead the public and lose credibility for himself. There's no way that Pederson is winning metro Phoenix and losing metro Tucson....just as there's no way the Star Tribune's Minnesota Poll data can be accurate when it claims that Republicans Tim Pawlenty and Mark Kennedy have 3-1 leads among 18-24 year old voters.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2006 08:02 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

On that Tucson/Phoenix split,perplexed is putting it mildly, KaIIIC. Makes no sense given historic voting patterns. Esp. considering that Kyl's base is Phoenix. Pederson is from Pinal County midway between Phoenix & Tucson. I note that Napolitano is leading in Tucson by 12 points and only lagging in Phoenix by 1 point, which seems logical. No, I just can't see Pederson doing crappy in Tucson and great in Phoenix at the same time.

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2006 01:26 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I'm inclined to believe that this race is going *somewhere*, at least. Check out this premium-poll summary from Rasmussen:

"The race for Arizona Senate is getting closer. Incumbent Senator Jon Kyl (R) is competing against Jim Peterson (D) in the Grand Canyon state."

I'm guessing Rasmussen will publicize the results for regular people tomorrow. Kyl's lead was 17 points on the last poll, so maybe his lead will only have shrunk to 11 points. I'm gonna predict that Rasmussen shows an 8-11 point margin tomorrow. Oh, and no one should worry about Bush's 9-11 poll bounce. Rasmussen shows that it lasted 5 days and is already gone. Regardless of what you think about the bizarrely high (that is, 40-42) approval ratings Rasmussen shows for Bush, it's spot-on as a leading trend indicator.

Posted by: X Stryker [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2006 01:34 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I'm more worried about Bush's approval ratings going up based on the short-term drop in the price of gas than any brief 9/11 bounce, to be honest.

Posted by: James L. [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2006 04:02 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

My read on Arizona is this. The Governor's race is a slam dunk re-election for an incredibly popular incumbent Gov. Janet NAPOLITANO. Her race is so non-competitive that her campaign is now assisting other Democrats up and down the ticket. Combine NAPOLITANO's coattail effect with freeing up her campaign to assit the remainder of the ticket and you create momentum up and down the ticket.

Combined with an extremely popular incumbent are the national political trends working against the GOP nationwide.

Plus, immigration does not appear to be a partisan edge for the GOP. Those who are militant on the issue tend to vote GOP already. Those that are not already voting for the GOP are not going to view the BUSH administration immigration policies as a motivator to vote GOP. In the meantime the hispanic community is galvanized by the issue and it has the effect of branding these newer voters with the Democrat party label. The hispanic tide is rising in Arizona and the white GOP reactionary wing is angry because they are losing control of the state.

The GOP fumbled the social security ball earlier in this election cycle and the older retirees are not likely to forget when they vote. In Arizona Social Security is a voting issue.

So national and local forces are aligning to favor the Democrats in Arizona. Three GOP seats in the House are in play (AZ 1st, 5th, & 8th) and the Senate seat is now as well.

And the bad press PEDERSON received after his son's drug conviction is calming down and is no longer distracting PEDERSON from issues of importance to the voters. As he regained his focus, he rebounded in the polls.

It should be a good year to be a Democrat in Arizona this November. PEDERSON defeating KYL would be the cherry on the cake election nite!
If 2006 becomes a Democratic rout rather than a tepid gain, then PEDERSON could be one of the major stories November 7th.

Posted by: walja [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 20, 2006 06:26 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

My Arizona friends tell me that Pederson is ignoring the progressive Democrats who might otherwise support him. In fact, he seems to be cutting them out. I didn't think Pederson was a blue dog, but he's beginning to walk that walk. Please tell me it isn't so!


Posted by: Bob in HI [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 5, 2006 06:51 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment