Biden, Kelly maintain leads in Arizona
PEORIA, Ariz. — Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Trump in Arizona, a rapidly changing state that has emerged as one of the marquee battlegrounds in the 2020 election, two polls released on Thursday show.
The Arizona Public Opinion Pulse conducted by the Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights shows Biden leading Trump by a 49 to 45 percent margin. Meanwhile, a Monmouth University poll released later Thursday morning found the former vice president carrying a 6-point lead over Trump, with 50 percent support to the president’s 44 percent.
In the state’s closely watched Senate race, former astronaut Mark Kelly (D) is ahead of Sen. Martha McSally (R) by 5 points, 50 to 45 percent, according to the OH Predictive Insights poll, a smaller lead than Kelly has enjoyed in recent polls. The Monmouth survey, however, showed Kelly with a sizable 10-point lead over McSally, 52 to 42 percent.
Biden’s 4-point lead in the OH Predictive Insights poll comes from his relative strength among voters who broke hard for Trump four years ago: independents, rural voters and men.
The former vice president leads by a 31-point margin in that poll among self-described independent voters in Arizona. Four years ago, Trump won those voters by a 47 to 44 percent margin over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to exit surveys.
Among rural voters, who in Arizona regularly favor Republican candidates by substantial margins, Trump now leads Biden by a 49 to 46 percent margin. Trump beat Clinton by 13 points among rural voters in 2016.
And Trump currently leads by just 4 points among male voters, a group he won by 13 points against Clinton.
By contrast, Biden now leads Trump by 13 points among women, by 3 points in Maricopa County, home of Phoenix and about three-fifths of the state’s voters, and by 17 points among those with college degrees. Clinton led Trump among women by just 4 points, and she lost Maricopa County and college-educated voters by narrow margins.
Mike Noble, OH Predictive Insight’s chief of research, pointed to what appears to be Trump’s ceiling of about 45 percentage points. The president has only occasionally broken through the 45 percent mark in Arizona polls, while Biden has been at or near 50 percent in most surveys.
“Trump is struggling with key groups such as women, college-educated whites, Hispanics and Latinos and moderate voters,” Noble said.
The Monmouth poll released Thursday shows Biden with stronger support among Latino voters in Arizona than Clinton carried in 2016. That year, she won about 61 percent of the Latino vote in the state, according to exit polls, while Biden now stands at 66 percent support.
Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said that if that increase in support holds through Election Day and Biden is able to win over some non-Hispanic white voters, as well, it would be enough for the vice president to win Arizona’s 11 electoral votes in November.
“Biden is currently on track to do slightly better than Clinton did with Latino voters and possibly white voters as well,” Murray said. “Those shifts would be enough for a victory if these numbers hold.”
The Senate race, a must-win for Democrats hoping to recapture the majority, has narrowed. OH Predictive Insight’s last poll, conducted in early September, showed Kelly with a strong 10-point lead. McSally’s current 45 percent is a higher share than in all but two of the 14 nonpartisan polls conducted since Labor Day, and the highest mark she has scored in an OH poll since early 2019.
Noble said Republican voters, some of whom had been skeptical of McSally, were coming home.
“McSally has finally been able to consolidate her base of Republican voters,” he said. However, “with early voting well underway here, time is almost running out for McSally to turn this around.”
Both Democrats and Republicans have made Arizona a prime focal point this year, after Trump carried the state by just 3.5 percentage points in 2016, the narrowest margin since former President Clinton won the state against Bob Dole and Ross Perot in 1996. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D) win over McSally in the 2018 midterm elections cemented Arizona’s status as a swing state.
Kelly was among the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s top recruits of the cycle, and has proved to be one of the party’s most prolific fundraisers. His campaign announced Thursday that it had raised $38.7 million in the third quarter of the year, a fundraising haul bested only by South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison, who pulled in a staggering $57 million in the third quarter.
Voters this year also hinted that they are more likely to vote for sweeping change. The OH survey found 55 percent of voters support Proposition 207, a ballot measure that would legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.
An identical 55 percent say they back Proposition 208, a measure that would impose a surtax on individuals who make more than $250,000 or families that make more than $500,000 in a year to increase funding for education.
The Monmouth poll also found majority support for the same ballot measures. Fifty-six percent of respondents in that survey said they would vote for Proposition 207, while even more – 60 percent – said they support Proposition 208.
The OH Predictive Insights poll, conducted Oct. 4-8, surveyed 608 likely voters via both live and automated phone calls. The survey carried a margin of error of 4 percentage points. The Monmouth University poll is based on responses from 502 registered Arizona voters gathered from Oct. 9-13. It has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
Updated: 11:08 a.m.
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