The Corner

Elections

Is the Arizona GOP’s Early Vote Lead Insurmountable?

Martha McSally greets her supporters on election night after winning the Republican primary for the open Senate seat in Tempe, Arizona, August 28, 2018. (Nicole Neri/Reuters)

I don’t want to say Arizona’s Senate race is a done deal.

But 1,230,433 Arizonans have voted early, as of this morning. For perspective, that’s approaching the 1.5 million total votes cast in the state in the 2014 midterm elections.

There are currently 3.7 million registered voters in Arizona. Of those who have voted early so far, 525,647 are registered Republicans and 413,005 are registered Democrats. Of the remainder, 8,250 are classified “minor parties” and 283,531 are classified “other” or unaffiliated.

If you assume that registered Republicans voted for Senate candidate Martha McSally and registered Democrats voted for Kyrsten Sinema in equal proportions, that gives McSally a 112,642-vote margin. That’s a sizable margin one week away from the election.

To pull even the early vote, Sinema would need to be winning the unaffiliated and minor-party voters by a roughly 70-30 split. Because there is a Green-party candidate (named, appropriately enough, Angela Green) and some of the state’s 6,463 registered members of the Green party no doubt voted for Green, Sinema would need to win the non-major-party vote by an even wider margin to pull even, maybe 71-29 or 72-28.

What we don’t know in this equation is how many Arizonans will vote on Election Day. If the turnout is low like in 2014, with about 1.5 million votes cast, Sinema would need to win the Election Day vote by an overwhelming margin, something like a 73 percent to 27 percent split. But if Arizona’s statewide turnout is higher, like in 2010, when about 1.75 million people voted, Sinema could attempt to make up that 112,642-vote margin out of another half-million voters. That would require a 62-38 split in Sinema’s favor — less difficult, but still not easy. An NBC News poll found Sinema leading among self-identified independents, 58 percent to 32 percent.

Arizona’s total turnout could end up being higher than 2010; the higher the remaining turnout, the better chance she has of overcoming McSally’s advantage in the early vote. And it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s possible that Sinema is doing better among registered Republicans than McSally is among registered Democrats; the NBC poll showed Sinema winning Democrats 95 percent to 4 percent, while McSally’s margin among Republicans was 88 percent to 7 percent.

But all in all, the McSally campaign and the Arizona GOP have done a phenomenal job of getting registered Republicans to vote early — and that might have given McSally a lead that turns out to be insurmountable.

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