The Governor's race in Arizona continues to shape up as a rare opportunity for Democrats this year to pick up a major office they don't already have control of. But although Terry Goddard still leads all of his Republican opponents in the race, incumbent Jan Brewer's position has improved a good deal since PPP last looked at the state in September.
In the most likely match up for this fall Goddard leads Brewer 47-44. That represents a tightening since Goddard held a 46-36 lead over her last fall. Partisan preferences have hardened in the wake of Brewer's signing a tough immigration bill last week. Where Brewer was getting only 59% of the Republican vote in our last poll, she's now at 73%. But Goddard has seen a similar improvement in his own party, improving from 77% of the Democratic vote to 88%. The main reason for the overall tightening is that where Brewer trailed Goddard by 12 points with independents previously, that's now just a 2 point deficit.
There has been a great deal of movement along racial lines. In the September poll Goddard had a 3 point lead with white voters, but he now trails Brewer by 8. At the same time he's increased his lead with Hispanic voters from 20 points to 46. There are a lot more white voters in the state than Hispanic ones so from a cynical, purely political perspective Brewer's actions last week probably did her some good.
Goddard has more comfortable leads against the rest of the Republican field. He leads Buz Mills 45-37, Dean Martin 47-36, and John Munger 46-31. In a hypothetical contest against Joe Arpaio he holds a 47-44 advantage identical to the one he posts against Brewer.
Brewer is still not very popular, with 35% of voters in the state approving of her job performance and 46% disapproving. But those numbers represent a significant improvement from where she stood last fall, when the approval was a 26/43 spread. Her greatest gains have come with Republicans who now give her a positive 54/27 approval after previously giving her a negative 28/37. She's still on negative ground with independents but has seen an improvement there as well, from 26/46 to 33/39. The reason her overall numbers are negative though is that Democrats have turned against her in a big way- her disapproval with them has spiked from 48% to 75%.
This is likely to be a tight race, and after last week perhaps one of the most closely watched contests in the country this year.
Full results here