by Jim Nintzel
Public Policy Polling drops some more numbers from Arizona. Key takeaways:
• Arizona Democrats would love to see Gabby Giffords be healthy enough to run for the Senate, but if she can't, they'd like to see Terry Goddard go for it. It's flattering for both Giffords and Goddard, but also indicates that Arizona Democrats do not have much of a bench.
• Mitt Romney is the choice of moderate Republicans and Michelle Bachmann is the choice of GOP conservatives.
• Sarah Palin is essentially tied with Jeff Flake among GOP voters who are thinking about who'd they like to see replace the retiring Sen. Jon Kyl.
• Arizona Republicans don't like Trump. And nobody likes J.D. Hayworth.
Here's the analysis of Tom Jensen of PPP:
-Arizona Democrats have a clear choice 1 and choice 1a for who they'd like their Senate candidate to be next year. 46% want Gabrielle Giffords to be their nominee to 28% for Terry Goddard, with none of the other names we threw into the mix even hitting double digits. We also asked who they would want if Giffords was not an option and in that instance Goddard becomes the clear favorite with 50% of Democrats saying they would want him to be the nominee in that instance. Harry Mitchell's the only other Democrat to hit double digits in the non-Giffords field at 11% and he's followed by Phil Gordon at 8%, Felicia Rotellini at 6%, Rodney Glassman and Ed Pastor at 5%, and Dennis Burke at 2%.
Given how strong the support for Giffords and then Goddard is over anyone else, it seems like the field will be pretty wide open if neither of them ends up running. It's definitely not a strong sign for Glassman, last year's nominee, that he polls at only 5%. It doesn't look like Democrats are interested in heading down that road again.
-Mitt Romney continues to have a healthy lead for the Republican Presidential nomination in the state at 24% to 12% each for Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee, 10% each for Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich, 8% for Donald Trump, and 5% for Tim Pawlenty.
This is just more evidence that Romney has a very strong pocket of support in the West- he's also led Republican polling we've done over the course of this year in Nevada, Colorado, and California. Romney has large leads with voters describing themselves as 'moderate' or 'somewhat conservative.' It's not a surprise that he trails with 'very conservative' voters, as that's a demographic he's weak with everywhere, but it is a surprise who leads with that group: Bachmann. It's an early sign that as she becomes better known she has the potential to become the primary conservative alternative to Romney as this race unfolds.
This poll also makes it more clear that the short lived Trump candidacy has imploded—he's in seventh place and beyond that Republican voters in the state just don't like him. His favorability is 37/51.
-Republican voters don't want Sarah Palin as their Presidential candidate...but she is their top choice as a Senate candidate. There's been some faint discussion that Palin might end up moving to Arizona and that perhaps if she wants to run for President further down the line it might be good for her to get some experience in federal office. 35% of Republicans in the state say Palin would be their first choice as a Senate candidate for next year to 33% for Jeff Flake and 11% for JD Hayworth, with none of the other names we threw into the mix hitting double digits.
The chances of Palin running for the Senate from Arizona would seem to be pretty minuscule but these numbers still show Flake could end up being vulnerable to a strong primary challenger, simply because he's just not that well known.
-One more plausible primary challenger who would not be a challenge to Flake is Hayworth. Republican voters flat out don't like him, with 33% expressing a favorable opinion of him to 45% with a negative one. He trails Flake 54-27 in a hypothetical contest. Given how weak John McCain's numbers are with Republican voters I think he would have lost to a strong primary challenger last year. Hayworth, however, may be as unpopular an opponent as you can come up with and that's why McCain survived.