Former vice president Joe Biden has endorsed Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic candidate running for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat. In an email sent out from Sinema’s Senate campaign, Biden said:
“I am proud to support my friend Kyrsten Sinema in her campaign for Senate. Kyrsten understands the challenges and opportunities that Arizona families face every day and will make a great Senator.
I’ve seen first-hand how Kyrsten gets things done for Arizona. She was indispensable to our work to strengthen the landmark Violence Against Women Act and brought a unique perspective, having worked in communities and schools. Together with Kyrsten, we expanded protections against domestic abuse and sexual assault.
Kyrsten also cares deeply for the brave men and women who wear our nation’s uniform. From standing up for our active duty service members to her work to ensure all veterans get the care they deserve, Kyrsten is tenacious in delivering results.
Kyrsten is as hard-working and principled as they come. She has the rare ability to cut through the political games and work across the aisle to get things done. These qualities can be tough to find today, but are as important as ever to solve our nation’s toughest challenges. We need more people like Kyrsten in the U.S. Senate.”
Arizona’s primary election is scheduled for August 28. Both Larry Sabato and the Cook Political Report project the Arizona Senate race as a tossup.
Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema leads in hypothetical matchups for Arizona’s Senate race against all three potential Republican opponents, according to two new polls which illustrate the challenge that state and national Republicans will have in holding this Senate seat in the November general election.
According to a CBS News/YouGov poll, Sinema leads former State Sen. Kelli Ward 43-35, Rep. Martha McSally 41-34, and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio 45-28. The same poll gives President Donald Trump a 47-53 approval rating
A second poll by Emerson College has Sinema leading Ward 43-26, McSally 40-32, and Arpaio 54-30. Sinema has a commanding 51 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, with no other candidate getting more than 8 percent. Republican primary voters are more divided, with McSally leading with 32 percent, Ward in second with 19 percent, Arpaio close behind with 18 percent, and 23 percent of voters still undecided.
The Emerson poll also has incumbent Republican governor Doug Ducey with a 31 percent approval rating, lower than President Trump’s 43 percent approval rating in the state. Ducey leads his opponent, former Secretary of State Ken Bennett 44-22 in the Republican gubernatorial primary, with 35 percent of voters undecided. Former college professor David Garcia leads among Democratic primary voters, with 30 percent of the vote. State Sen. Steve Farley is in second place with 13 percent, and Kelly Fryer in third with 9 percent of the vote. However, 48 percent of voters are undecided.
Defending the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jeff Flake is one of Republicans’ biggest challenges in an otherwise mostly favorable 2018 Senate cycle. According to the Prew Research Center, Arizona has the sixth highest Hispanic population in the country – roughly 2.1 million Hispanics who account for 31 percent of the state population, and approximately 3.7 percent of all Hispanics in the United States. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton overperformed in Arizona in 2016 compared to previous Democratic presidential candidates, losing the state by only 3.5 percent of the vote. State Democrats may be even more energized to turn out and vote because of President Trump’s decision to pardon Sheriff Arpaio in August of 2017. There has been no polling of Arizona voters about the Trump administration’s family separation policy, but a recent Battleground Tracker poll by CBS News and YouGov found that the policy only has 27 percent support.
The primary election is scheduled for August 28. Both Larry Sabato and the Cook Political Report project the Arizona Senate race as a tossup.
UPDATE: NBC News released the results of its Arizona Senate race poll this afternoon. Sinema leads all three Republican candidates by double digits: Ward 48-38, McSally 49-38, Arpaio 57-32.
These are the senators up for re-election in 2018 – in the case of many Democrats, they are the ones who got elected by riding Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election coattails.
- Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
- John Barrasso (R-WY)
- Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
- Ben Cardin (D-MD)
- Tom Carper (D-DE)
- Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
- Bob Casey (D-PA)
- Bob Corker (R-TN)
- Ted Cruz (R-TX)
- Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
- Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
- Deb Fischer (R-NE)
- Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
- Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY)
- Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
- Dean Heller (R-NV)
- Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
- Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
- Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
- Tim Kaine (D-VA)
- Angus King (I-ME)
- Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
- Joe Manchin (D-WV)
- Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
- Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
- Chris Murphy (D-CT)
- Bill Nelson (D-FL)
- Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
- Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
- Jon Tester (D-MT)
- Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
- Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
- Roger Wicker (R-MS)
Most of these seats are generally safe for the incumbent or the incumbent party. The problem for Democrats is they will be defending more seats this cycle (23, and two independents in Maine and Vermont) than the Republicans (8). Republicans will likely have a 52-48 majority in the Senate for the next two years (pending on the outcome of the Louisiana Senate runoff election scheduled for December). If Democrats are to retake the Senate, they need a net gain of 3 seats. This is going to be very difficult because many of them represent states won by Donald Trump (red is solid Republican, purple is swing state, blue is solid Democrat):
Heitkamp, Manchin, McCaskill and Tester are particularly vulnerable because of the states they represent, so out of self-preservation they may vote for Trump nominees and legislation to save face back home. The other states are traditionally Democratic, but given that Trump won them in 2016 and that Democrats tend to have less reliable turnout for midterm elections, they can’t take anything for granted.
On the other hand, the Democrats’ best opportunities for a pickup are in purple or purple-leaning states:
Arizona has historically been a safely Republican state, but Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton here 49-45, probably a closer margin than state Republicans would like. Nevada Democrats – led by the Harry Reid political machine – ran the table and won every race in the state. If Democrats recruit a solid candidate and the Reid machine can put together another performance like they did in 2016, Heller could be their biggest chance for a pickup opportunity.
A lot can happen in two years. The political dynamics, such as the state of the economy, will determine which party benefits. Historically, the party in the White House tends to lose congressional seats during the midterm elections. But right now, two years out, it’s looking difficult for Senate Democrats.