“Blue Wave” Absent in Arizona Races

By Jim Ellis

L-R -- Arizona Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) and Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

From left to right, Arizona Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) and Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

Nov. 2, 2018 — It was always believed that the Grand Canyon State’s open Senate race between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) and Martha McSally (R-Tucson) would be one of the best campaigns in the country, and no one should be disappointed.

As we approach Election Day, differing indicators have presented themselves regarding who might win this toss-up campaign. Five polls have been released covering the period between Oct. 23-29. Three of the five give Rep. Sinema a slight lead, while one projects a tie.

YouGov/CBS News (Oct. 23-26; 972 likely Arizona voters) and Marist College/NBC News (Oct. 23-27; 506 likely Arizona voters) both post the Democratic nominee to identical 47-44 percent leads. CNN/SSRS (Oct. 24-29; 702 likely Arizona voters) finds Sinema’s edge to be 51-47 percent. But HighGround Public Affairs (Oct. 26-28; 400 likely Arizona voters) sees Rep. McSally ahead, 47-45 percent. Fox News (Oct. 27-29; 643 likely Arizona voters) came to a third conclusion, a 46-46 percent tie.

Yet the polling appears to be a bit at odds with the early voting patterns, at least according to the Data Orbital (DO) firm, a local Phoenix-based survey research organization.

DO released an early voting report yesterday suggesting that reports of a “blue wave” forming is not supported in the pre-election process at this point and further indicates that Democrats are going to have a difficult time making up the perceived difference through polling place voting.

Data Orbital’s analysis indicates that over 1.2 million people have already cast their ballots and makes points suggesting that Republicans are at least the preliminary beneficiaries of the pre-election voting pattern.

First, they illustrate that the early vote is running at an identical level to the 2016 presidential contest. In that pattern, DO reiterates that Republicans held a 6.4 percent edge over Democrats, or just under an 80,000-vote advantage. Now, that GOP edge appears to be 9.4 percent, meaning an approximate 114,000-vote margin over the Democratic-returned ballots. Though the actual votes have obviously not been counted, the partisan polarization gives us a strong idea as to which Senate candidate is benefiting the most from the early vote universe.

Secondly, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) is pulling away to double-digit advantages in all polling, and the early vote analysis makes it fairly certain that he will win re-election to a second term. This is helping to set a favorable GOP turnout model for the rest of the ticket.

With the Arizona early voting period drawing to a close, Data Orbital began looking at the remaining voters, those who requested an absentee ballot but have yet to return it, and those who are not participating in early voting. According to their conclusion, the most reliable voters within those yet-to-vote subsets maintain the Republican advantage because the party has a decided edge among those who haven’t yet voted but who are proven to do so in every election … in other words, those who have cast ballots in the past four consecutive elections or at least three of the four.

George Khalaf, president of Data Orbital, issued the following statement:

“We started the year anticipating a blue wave scenario with pundits predicting Republicans would have a 4-5 percent ballot advantage. But now, as we look at early voting, it’s very clear that this blue wave scenario just isn’t happening. Total turnout numbers are only slightly below 2016, which is even more instructive than the current Republican ballot advantage.

The record turnout is causing the total raw Republican ballot advantage to be much higher than both 2016 and 2014, giving Republicans a strong advantage going into election day. Since they make up a little more than 50 percent of likely Election Day voters, it is going to be very difficult for Democrats to turn that advantage around.”

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