Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kyl looks solid

Jon Kyl has solid approval numbers and will be a strong favorite for reelection if he decides to seek another term. Democrats' best hope for making this a legitimate offensive opportunity is probably for him to retire.

47% of voters approve of the job Kyl is doing to 40% who disapprove. That's above average when compared against all the other Senators PPP has polled on over the last seven months. Kyl is not particularly popular with independents, sporting a 35/50 approval spread. But his 24% approval from Democrats is pretty decent for the degree of polarization in the country right now and there's no doubt about his popularity with Republicans, 74% of whom approve of him to only 14% disapproving.

Beyond Kyl's good numbers this doesn't look like a great opportunity for Democrats due to the weakness of their bench in Arizona. We tested former Attorney General and Gubernatorial nominee Terry Goodard, Homeland Security Secretary and former Governor Janet Napolitano, former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon against Kyl.

Goddard does the best of the bunch but still trails Kyl 50-40. Consistent with his numbers throughout the campaign against Jan Brewer last year, 43% of voters have a favorable opinion of Goddard to 35% with an unfavorable one. There were few candidates last year who were as well liked as him but simultaneously managed to lose by large margins. It seems doubtful he would want to launch another uphill battle so soon after last year's disappointment.

On paper Janet Napolitano is probably the Democrats' dream candidate as a popular former Governor. The problem is that ever since she joined the Obama administration she's not popular in the state anymore. 55% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of her to only 40% with a positive one and she trails Kyl 53-41 in a head to head. No point in coming back from Washington DC to face those odds.

Doing next best against Kyl is Kirkpatrick, who trails 51-35. She is mostly unknown across the state with 55% of voters professing no opinion about her. She is on positive ground with the few folks who do know her- 24% rate her positively to 21% with an unfavorable opinion.

And faring poorest against Kyl is Gordon, at a 54-33 disadvantage. Gordon's favorability numbers are a double whammy. He is not terribly well known statewide with a plurality of voters at 44% saying they have no opinion about him. And the folks who do know him don't like him- only 19% rate him positively to 37% who have a negative opinion.

Arizona looks like a very difficult challenge for Democrats if Kyl's on the ballot and if he's not they have some work to do to find a candidate who could be successful even in an open seat situation.

Full results here


Anonymous said...

I don't imagine that Goddard will run again. He started the 2010 Governor's campaign leading before the immigration bill, before losing by over 10 points.

Unknown said...

I don't think anyone thought Kyl was in trouble. What people want to know is what'll happen if it's Shadegg or Flake instead?

Anonymous said...

You guys didn't poll anyone besides Kyl? It must have been too much to include...

Oh well.

Anonymous said...

No 2012 poll?

NRH said...

Kyl didn't win impressively to take the seat, so it's worthwhile to check. The number that stands out for me is Kyl's standing with Hispanic voters in any of the head-to-head matchups - he's drawing in the 40% range, which is within historical averages for Arizona Hispanics but well above what Republicans drew in 2010. Also that Hispanics represented 17% of the sample despite representing 30% of state population - that's not saying PPP got an unusual sample; that's highlighting the low voter registration of Arizona Hispanics. If Kyl were receiving 20% of the Hispanic vote and that vote bumped up to 25% of the electorate from 17%, then this could be a top-tier race. He might see the low Hispanic support if he gets an opponent who can really tar him with the Arizona Republican brush, but I don't think the Arizona Dems can get enough non-voters registered and in the booths. Too many who aren't eligible to, are unwilling to, or just don't know they're eligible.

Still, there's lots of time for a race to develop. Initially, though, Kyl would need to make a key mistake to make this a top-tier race, or have some major event shake things up.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"You guys didn't poll anyone besides Kyl? It must have been too much to include..."

Yeah, this was even pushing it as far as poll length goes. If we'd done two more Republicans, that would've been 19 questions just on the Senate race. As it is, we asked 9. If he retires, we can always do AZ again at some point in the next few months.

"No 2012 poll?"

This is a 2012 race...for Senate. You mean for president? That'll be out tomorrow. Why would we release it with this?

vp said...

There's a decent possibility that Obama will target AZ in his re-election campaign. He lost by a fairly narrow margin of 8% in 2008 in his rival's home state and without any serious campaigning there.

If this does occur then we should expect Hispanic registration and participation to be significantly higher.

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