by Jim Nintzel
Public Policy Polling has released numbers for a potential GOP primary in next year's gubernatorial race. The news is not good for Gov. Jan Brewer, but a crowded primary could work out well for J. Fife Symington III, our former governor:
In a head to head contest with Treasurer Dean Martin, Brewer trails 37-26. She does edge Martin 28-26 among moderates, but Martin leads 39-26 with conservatives. Given that 76% of Arizona Republicans identify themselves as conservatives governing from the center is not a very good strategy for winning the primary. It doesn't look like she would benefit any from her gender either as she is down by 13 points with women, even greater than her 7 point deficit with men.
Brewer leads a head to head contest with Fife Symington 39-31. Given that Martin leads Brewer and Brewer leads Symington you would expect that in a three way contest Martin would lead followed by Brewer and then Symington.
But weird things happen in three way primaries and that's not the case. Symington actually leads with 34% to 26% for Martin and 22% for Brewer. The reason is that even though more people dislike Symington than the other two candidates, he is the most popular with the people who do like him. 61% of Republicans with a favorable opinion of him say they'll vote for him in a three way primary. Only 50% of Martin and 46% of Brewer's supporters say the same. So the intensity of support is stronger for Symington.
Of course these numbers are of limited use when the field is so unsettled and the primary is so far away. The important takeaway is that there is a very good chance Brewer won't win the nomination if she has strong competition.