Kelly leads McSally by 9 points in Arizona

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) holds a 9-point lead over Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona McSally defeats primary challenger for GOP Senate nod in Arizona Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions MORE (R) in Arizona, a state critical to Democrats' hopes of reclaiming control of the U.S. Senate.

Kelly leads McSally by a 52 percent to 43 percent margin, according to a new survey conducted by the Phoenix-based firm OH Predictive Insights. Kelly leads by 27 percentage points among independent voters, by 19 points among women and by 40 points among voters who call themselves moderate.

Kelly, a first-time candidate who has raised eye-popping sums of money, has consolidated the Democratic vote in a way that McSally has not among the GOP. Kelly takes 91 percent of the vote among self-described Democrats, while McSally captures 81 percent of the Republican vote.

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“The formula for a Republican winning statewide office in Arizona involves locking up the GOP vote and garnering just enough independents,” said Mike Noble, chief of research at OH Predictive Insights. “Sen. McSally appears to be having a difficult time doing either.”

Kelly is running ahead of the margins Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) managed when she narrowly beat McSally in 2018, becoming the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in the state that produced Barry Goldwater and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Prominent conservatives question Jerry Falwell Jr. vacation photo NRCC poll finds McBath ahead of Handel in Georgia MORE in a generation.

Sinema won among female voters by 4 points; Kelly leads among women by 19. Sinema won liberal Pima County by 16 points; Kelly leads there by 27. Sinema won Hispanic voters by 19 points; Kelly’s lead among those voters is twice that.

Critically in a mostly rural state dominated by one major metropolitan area, Kelly leads McSally by 12 points among voters in Maricopa County, the home of Phoenix and about three-fifths of Arizona’s registered voters.

Only one candidate in modern times has won a statewide race in Arizona without carrying Maricopa County. That candidate, former Arizona Superintendent of Education Diane Douglas (R), lost Maricopa County to her Democratic rival by just 1,250 votes out of more than 825,000 cast.

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If there is any positive for McSally, it is that her 9-point deficit is actually an improvement on her standing in the same poll conducted two months ago. In OH Predictive Insight’s May survey, Kelly led by a 51 to 38 percent margin.

McSally, caught between appealing to the mainstream Republican or independent voters who backed McCain and the arch-conservatives who increasingly dominate the state Republican Party, has struggled to right the ship two years after losing to Sinema.

Gov. Doug Ducey (R) appointed McSally to fill the remainder of McCain’s term in 2019, after former Sen. Jon Kyl (R) stepped in as a temporary placeholder. But time in office has not helped McSally; she has trailed Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), in 14 of the last 15 public polls of Arizona votes.

The new poll, conducted July 6 and 7, surveyed 600 likely Arizona voters for a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Updated at 8:48 a.m.