PHOENIX — The decision by the state’s senior senator to plot her own path on issues like infrastructure relief is leaving a mark.
And it's not necessarily a good one.
A new survey released Monday finds that as many Arizonans have an unfavorable opinion of Kyrsten Sinema as those who like what she is doing.
But the real news in the online, opt-in poll by OH Predictive Insights is that only one in four Democrats want Sinema as their senator.
More to the point, her efforts to paint herself as a moderate willing to work across the aisle has not engendered a following among Republicans.
On one hand, pollster Mike Noble said 48% of Republicans view Sinema favorably. But when asked who they want as senator, only one in five chooses her, with 75% still wanting someone from their own party.
If if nothing else changes, that means she can’t count on significant crossover vote.
All that, of course, presumes she gets to keep her party’s nomination.
Noble said the saving grace for her may be time: Elected in 2018 by defeating Republican Martha McSally, Sinema does not have to run again until 2024.
“While there is still time between now and then, Sinema has ground to make up with her constituents in the next three years,” he said.
There are some other Democrats that party faithful may be more willing to back.
Noble said that 47% of those asked said they would support Congressman Ruben Gallego if there were a primary contest today with Sinema, against 26% who said they would stick with the incumbent if that were the choice. Congressman Greg Stanton also registers similar numbers in a hypothetical match-up.
And even state schools chief Kathy Hoffman has a 20-point edge.
“Sinema’s holding out on the reconciliation bill caused a lot of political pressure from the left wing of her party, and her numbers were beginning to sour because of it,” Noble said.
The senator also has taken some flack for her support of the filibuster.
That process, unique to the Senate, effectively means that most legislation in the 100-member chamber needs 60 votes to pass, with only budget-related bills as exceptions. And with Democrats holding only 50 of those seats, that gives Republicans veto power over any measure, even with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking 51st vote.
It would take a simple majority to quash the rule. But Sinema has refused, even though it meant that Democrats could not advance voting rights legislation that party leaders say is necessary to counter measures being approved by Republican-controlled state legislatures that could make it harder for some people to vote.
Sinema has argued that the filibuster is a tool that can be used as necessary, even by Democrats, who get the opportunity to block what they see as bad legislation. And she said it can “force dialog” between whatever party is in the majority and members of the minority party.
That explanation, however, has left some members of the Democrats' progressive wing less than satisfied, especially with the death of voting rights measures.
Noble said, however, that Sinema has one thing working in her favor, at least on that issue: 39% of those questioned say they are not sure where she stands on the issue.
While Sinema has problems, it’s not like the situation is much better for Mark Kelly. And he doesn't have the luxury of time.
Elected just last year, he needs to run again in 2022 to fill out the balance of the term for the seat that originally belonged to John McCain.
Among everyone surveyed, his favorable ratings totaled 41%, half of whom have very favorable opinions of him. Sinema's favorables totaled 42%, though only a quarter of those fell into the highly favorable category.
“Both Sinema and Kelly have work to do if they want to hold onto their seats,” Noble said.
“For Sinema, she must rebuild some of the bridges she seems to have burned with voters in her own party,” he said.
Kelly's problem, Noble said, is complicated by the fact that he is running in a non-presidential midterm election, a point at which voters unhappy with the party in power both in Congress and the White House have been known to turn out incumbents in favor of challengers.
“As President Biden faces his lowest approval ratings since taking office, voters are turning the frustration to Democratic candidates,” Noble said. “That’s something Sen. Kelly should keep in mind as he races reelection in one of the country's closest swing states.”
The results are based on an online opt-in panel survey of 713 registered voters conducted from Nov. 1 through Nov. 8, with the demographics weights to reflect voter population by gender, region, age, party affiliation, ethnicity and education. It is considered to have a margin of error of 3.7%.
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