by Jim Nintzel
Democrat Richard Carmona's U.S. Senate campaign issues a polling memo that lays out his path to victory in November:
TO: Interested parties
DATE: May 9, 2012
FROM: Alexis Tameron, Campaign Manager
RE: State of the U.S. Senate Race
In Arizona’s hundred-year history, only 10 individuals have been elected to represent the state in the U.S. Senate: five Republicans and five Democrats. Both public and our internal polling show our campaign is well positioned to break that tie and elect Dr. Richard Carmona to the U.S. Senate.
A recent Anzalone Liszt survey conducted April 2-9, had Dr. Carmona within 4 percentage points of six-term incumbent Congressman Jeff Flake—43% to 39%—placing Dr. Carmona within the margin of error. That data is backed up by a recent public poll conducted by the Magellan Strategies—a Republican polling firm—that showed nearly the same numbers.
But the most encouraging finding within both polls isn’t where we stand now—it’s how much room we have to grow.
Congressman Flake’s name ID is more than twice of Dr. Carmona’s. But our data shows the more Arizonans get to know about Rich, the more they like. With balanced positive messaging presented about both Dr. Carmona and Congressman Flake, our internal polling shows Rich leads 49% to 44%.
Additionally, while our campaign is seeing more and more signs of strength, the six-term incumbent congressman is now mired in a much tougher than expected primary against the self-funded wealthy businessman Wil Cardon.
Cardon’s sustained television buys and nonstop attacks on Flake’s past—including his work as a Washington lobbyist for an African uranium mine with financial ties to Iran—are forcing Flake to engage a primary opponent who that not long ago, was 50 points behind him. Congressman Flake’s campaign is now launching frequent counterattacks at Cardon after remaining silent for months, a sure sign that Cardon’s candidacy has grown into a serious primary challenge.
Carmona’s Path to Victory
The recent poll conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research showed Dr. Carmona has significant room to grow and is in position to win a major share of the Hispanic vote. Additionally, the survey by Republican-aligned Magellan Strategies showed Carmona beating Flake among independents.
When balanced positive information is presented about both Carmona and Flake, Carmona surges to a 49% to 44% lead. When the same balanced information is presented to Hispanic voters, Carmona’s share of that crucial swing demographic goes from 61% to 72%.
A number of recent public polls have also shown President Obama running even or close to even with Mitt Romney in Arizona. This data—along with the fluidity shown the Anzalone Liszt poll—illustrates what we’ve known for months: Independents and moderate voters up for grabs.
Fluidity is a good thing for a political outsider challenging a well-entrenched incumbent. Congressman Flake has had 12 years to make the case to Arizonans that he deserves to represent us in Washington, but it is clear that he hasn’t sealed the deal. The Magellan Strategies poll showed that just as many Arizonans viewed him unfavorably (31%) as favorably (30%).
The huge number of persuadable moderates and Independents indicates that many Arizonans who voted for Sen. McCain in 2008 and Sen. Kyl in 2006 will be voting for Carmona in 2012. In fact, we’re already starting to see evidence that there is a large universe of self-identified conservative and moderate voters who are persuadable.
The Magellan Strategies poll showed 12.5% of Arizonans who voted for McCain in 2008 are definite or probable Carmona voters in 2012. Carmona captured 13.5% of self-identified conservatives surveyed by Magellan and holds a staggering 52.2% to 27.4% lead over Flake with moderates. Among Independents, Carmona leads 41% to 37.1%.
The GOP’s Bitter Primary
Though public polling has consistently shown Flake with a sizeable advantage over Cardon, Arizona Republicans have shown no fear of bucking Flake.
While Flake recently touted the endorsement of Washington tea-party figure Jim DeMint – in Arizona, two well-known and influential tea-party conservatives are setting up to back Cardon.
Former state Senate President Russell Pearce recently called Cardon “my kind of guy” during a laudatory interview on Pearce’s own radio show. And just last night, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, was the “special guest” at a Washington fundraiser to benefit Cardon’s campaign.
Mr. Cardon has committed more than $4 million of his own money to this primary – putting him slightly ahead of Congressman Flake in cash on hand. As a result, Flake will likely have to spend significantly more from his war chest than he initially planned to win the primary.
With each passing day, the Republican primary is becoming more costly and is causing more damage to a brand Congressman Flake has spent six terms building. It is becoming clear to local prognosticators that whoever emerges from this primary battle will have difficulty marshaling the resources, political strength and centrist credibility needed to win the Independent and moderate voters needed to win this race.
When looking at all available data and recent evidence on the ground, it is clear that Congressman Flake’s primary victory is far from being settled.
This race is wide open, and given Arizona’s statewide electoral history, there is little doubt it will be close.
As Dr. Carmona’s campaign continues to grow stronger each month, it’s doubtful our opponents will be able to say the same. It’s going to be a long, hot and miserable summer for Congressman Flake.