Arizona Senate race neck and neck in internal Carmona poll

Flake has 44 percent support to Carmona's 43, a margin touted by Carmona campaign spokesman Andy Barr as evidence that "Arizonans are starting to see the clear choice in this race."

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Carmona has slightly more crossover appeal than Flake, bringing in 9 percent of Republican voters, while Flake nabs only 2 percent of Democratic voters. And of Flake supporters, 17 percent say there is a fair or small chance they could flip to Carmona — less than the 11 percent of Carmona voters who indicated that same willingness to switch.

But the race is still in its early stages, and Carmona remains relatively unknown statewide, with only 48 percent of voters expressing familiarity with the candidate. That's up from 30 percent just a few weeks ago, but indicates there's still a large portion of the electorate that hasn't yet been introduced to the Democratic candidate, and Flake still has room to get out ahead and define him before he's able to define himself.

That's just what Flake's campaign has attempted to do over the past few weeks, launching a campaign to tag Carmona "Rubberstamp Rich," a candidate who will support all of President Obama's policies. And as Obama remains largely unpopular in the state, with Mitt Romney posting a substantial lead over him in most polls, Flake's best bet might be in tying Carmona to the party's presidential nominee.

Flake, though, faces some difficulty in defining himself for voters over the next six weeks. The new poll indicates that Flake's bruising primary fight against Wil Cardon might be weighing down his favorables in the state, as 38 percent of Arizonans view him favorably, compared to 32 percent who view him unfavorably.

The poll was conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research among 600 likely voters from Sept. 18-23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.