An Arizona Senate Update; Louisiana Governor Polling

Nov. 17, 2015 — The Rocky Mountain Poll, from the Behavior Research Center (Oct. 24-Nov. 5; 577 registered Arizona voters), brings us the Arizona Senate race’s most recent snapshot both for the Republican primary and Sen. John McCain’s (R) general election pairing.

Though the sample period of 13 days is unacceptably high, therefore creating a large polling error factor, the results at least provide us a reference point from which to begin serious monitoring of this campaign.

According to the results, Sen. McCain leads Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1) by an uncomfortably small margin, 37-31 percent, just a six-point spread. From McCain’s perspective, the poll’s most troubling aspect is his general election support figure topping out at only 37 percent. This could tie back to the large error factor, and because the pollsters gave the uncommitted/undecided response equivalent status to voicing a preference for one of the two major party candidates. In fact, 32 percent of the respondents said they are undecided. Therefore, not choosing a candidate became an easy and acceptable response.

The BRC pollsters also asked the sample’s 277 self-identified Republican segment about the primary challenge to Sen. McCain. Here, the incumbent leads GOP state Sen. Kelli Ward, 41-11 percent, but McCain’s strength among Independents who can vote in any party primary expands his advantage well beyond the spread found exclusively among Republicans. In the GOP-only subset, McCain’s total drops to 38-12 percent.

Though the Arizona race is not yet considered a top-tier campaign, it’s conceivable we could see it move to such a category next summer in anticipation of the state primary (Aug. 30) and general election.

Louisiana Governor

After several weeks of receiving bad news pertaining to his gubernatorial effort, Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (R) received a needed shot in the arm from the new Hayride/Marble Point survey (Nov. 11; 978 likely Louisiana voters). This poll is interesting because the survey analysis contrasts why their 48-42 percent (John Bel Edwards (D) leading Vitter) projection is more accurate than several other recent studies that found the Democratic candidate residing in the mid-50s while the Republican US senator lags about 20 points behind.

The Marble Point group refined their polling sample to better reflect the Louisiana voting complexion. In the Oct. 24 primary, 46 percent of the voters were Democrats as compared to 28 percent who described themselves as Republicans. The Marble Point sample comprises 51 percent who are Democrats versus 33 percent claiming to be Republicans. They also asked the sampling universe to describe their own ideology on a scale of 1-10, with the most liberal being a one. The group placed themselves at 6.9 on the ideological matrix. Then they were asked to plot both Edwards and Vitter. Here, the sample placed the Democrat at 4.1, with his Republican counterpart at 7.2. The question’s underlying premise suggests that Vitter should gain support when ideology becomes a bigger factor in vote determination.

The other point in Vitter’s favor is the generic ballot question. When asked whether they would be more willing to support a Republican or a Democrat in the upcoming Nov. 21 governor’s race, 47 percent said Republican versus 39 percent who opted for the Democratic label.

On the other hand, Edwards is winning another type of poll. The latest campaign finance disclosures were publicized, and he clearly has momentum. Since the Oct. 24 primary, the Democrat has raised $4.5 million compared to Sen. Vitter’s $2.6 million. Since Vitter began with the larger war chest, campaign resources are relatively equal and both have plenty of money for the stretch run.

Despite Edwards’ polling advantages, it is very likely that this race, despite Sen. Vitter’s substantial negatives, will continue to tighten as the campaign’s last week begins.

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