Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Arizona U.S. Senate race

Race of the Day

August 2, 2006
97 Days until Election Day

Arizona U.S. Senate

Status: Republican Incumbent
2004 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Likely Republican

Some very optimistic Democrats continue to hold out hope that the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Jon Kyl is in reach and that a victory by wealthy developer and former State Democrat Chairman Jim Pederson could possibly be the 6th seat that could be won in a political tidal wave that would give control of the U.S. Senate back to Democrats.

However, it does appear that while Pederson will have ample personal money to spend on the race, the DSCC and other pro-Democrat groups are not looking at Arizona as a top-tier battleground and that it might even be falling slightly more out of contention. In spite of this, some Democrats are buoyed by polls, such as the somewhat dubious Zogby online poll which show Kyl at below 50 % support and a lead over Pederson that remains in the single digits. The same sample also shows Democrat Governor Janet Napolitano with a similar lead over one of her Republican opponents, a lead which is also much smaller than what conventional wisdom would indicate.

While Kyl is not the type of flashy politician that will ever be universally loved due to his charisma, and while he lacks the star power and national profile of his senior colleague John McCain, he is a highly respected public servant known for his intellect and every poll outside of Zogby has shown him holding a double digit lead over Pederson. A survey released today by Rasmussen Reports puts the margin at 53 % for the Republican incumbent as opposed to 34 % for his Democrat challenger.

Arizona is a state that is seen as becoming somewhat more competitive between the two parties and as mentioned, the state does have a fairly popular Democrat as its Governor, but Republicans still hold the advantage in most federal races. Pederson’s ability to write himself a check is a plus for the Democrats and it assures that he will be able to get his message out and rally the base, but Kyl also happens to be sitting on top of a very large campaign war chest.

It would take a very wide-ranging and strong year for the Democrats to give Pederson an opportunity to win this Senate seat. There are factors that should allow him to fare far better than most Democrat Senate candidates in Arizona in recent years, but it is also likely that by the fall, this race will not be on anybody’s “must watch” list.

Kyl campaign link:

2006 Senate races predicted thus far: 0D, 1 R
Predicted post-election Senate balance of power thus far: 27 D, 41 R