If the election was today Democrats would reclaim the Governor's seat they gave up in Arizona when Janet Napolitano became Homeland Security Secretary. Attorney General and likely party nominee Terry Goddard leads incumbent Republican Jan Brewer and two other potential GOP rivals by margins ranging from 8 to 23 points.
Only 26% of Arizona voters approve of the job Brewer is doing with 43% expressing disapproval and 31% unsure. Her numbers are remarkably consistent along party lines with 28% of Republicans, 26% of Democrats, and 24% of independents giving her good marks. Of all the Governors and Senators PPP has polled on across the country so far in 2009 Brewer is the least popular within her own party, taking that mantle from Illinois Senator Roland Burris who is at just 29% with Democrats.
Brewer's level of crossover support with Democrats actually isn't too bad, but it won't matter if she can't make it to the general election. PPP will release numbers looking at some possible Republican primary contests on Friday.
Goddard leads Brewer 46-36 in a head to head contest, winning 77% of the Democratic vote while holding her to 59% of the Republican vote and taking independents 47-35. He is actually slightly more popular with GOP voters than Brewer is, with 31% of them viewing him positively. Overall 44% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of him to 22% unfavorable.
With Brewer's position looking perilous, PPP also tested some alternative GOP candidates against Goddard.
Fife Symington may have had the conviction that led to his resignation in 1997 thrown out by the courts, but he doesn't appear to have recovered in the court of public opinion. 54% of voters in the state have an unfavorable opinion of him with only 17% viewing him favorably. It's important to note though that 26% of Republicans like him, almost equal to Brewer. That could make a primary contest interesting.
He doesn't appear to be viable as a general election candidate, trailing Goddard 52-29. The Democrat wins independents by an unusual 31 point margin in that match, and wins 84% of his party vote while Symington gets just 51% of Republicans.
The best choice for Republicans then might be a fresher face in the form of Treasurer Dean Martin. He's not particularly well known, with 54% of voters not knowing enough about him to have formed an opinion. But that might not be a bad thing considering how many voters already dislike Brewer and Symington. His favorability breaks down 27/19 with those who do know him, and he comes the closest of the GOP trio to Goddard, trailing only 45-37.
The Republicans are basically in disarray here and that's giving Goddard the early advantage. His favorability numbers are good but certainly not so good that he's unbeatable. It would probably be in the GOP's best interests if Brewer decided not to run for reelection, Symington stayed on the sidelines, and Martin or some other candidate with less baggage ended up as the party's nominee. For now though this is one of the few 2010 races in a bad political climate for Democrats where they're favored to gain an office currently held by the GOP.
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