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AZ-Sen: New poll shows Martha McSally with big lead in GOP primary

A new poll shows Arizona GOP U.S. Senate candidate, Rep. Martha McSally, with a 14-point lead over other Republican candidates. Arizona’s primary is Aug. 28. (Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images)

Rep. Martha McSally has a 14-point lead in Arizona’s Republican Senate primary, based on a new poll by OH Predictive Insights of Phoenix.

McSally is leading with just more than 39 percent, according to the poll. Former state Sen. Kelli Ward is second at 24.5 percent, and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arapio trails with 14 percent. About 22 percent of voters are reportedly undecided.

The results mark a big change from OHPI’s last poll in April, which had Ward in first place with a 9-point lead over McSally. The Republican candidates are competing to replace retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake. Arizona’s primary is Aug. 28.

Why is she leading?

Mike Noble, OHPI’s chief pollster, attributed McSally’s rise to an improvement in her name recognition and her image as a supporter of President Donald Trump, The Hill reported.

“McSally is starting to tell her story, she’s flush with cash, and she benefited from her pivot to embrace Trump. That all puts her in the driver's seat — or should I say the cockpit?” Noble said, referring to her background as a retired Air Force colonel and the first female fighter pilot to fly a combat mission.

The poll, released this week, shows McSally leads the other GOP challengers in both Maricopa and Pima counties, along with more rural areas of the state.

“With only 22.4 percent of voters undecided in the GOP primary and early voting approximately 40 days away, expect the attacks to start flying as the candidates ratchet up the pressure.”

McSally is also leading her opponents “among the different ideological bases of likely GOP primary voters,” according to The Hill. She leads Ward by more than 10 points among voters categorized as “Trump Republicans.” Also, McSally tops Ward among more moderate voters, 43 percent to 16 percent.

The final GOP nominee is expected to face Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in November.

What about the Democrats?

Democrats have not won a Senate seat in Arizona since 1988. But the party is confident because Sinema is not facing a tough primary, The Hill reported.

The OHPI poll did not include the general election. But in its April poll, Sinema led all three Republicans.

The poll surveyed 600 likely GOP primary voters via landline telephones on June 11-12. Ninety percent of those surveyed were Republican and 10 percent were independents, according to reports. The poll’s margin error is 4 percentage points.

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