With less than three weeks to go before Election Day, and with early voting already underway in the state, a pair of new polls shows the U.S. Senate race tightly knotted, with Democrat incumbent Mark Kelly clinging to a narrow lead over Republican challenger Blake Masters.
On Tuesday, KHPO-TV released the results of a survey of 500 likely voters conducted by HighGround which found Kelly leading Masters by just a hair over two points, 42.4% to 39.6%, with Libertarian Marc Victor garnering support from a shade more than 5% of the survey respondents. Today, a DailyWire/Trafalgar poll shows Kelly with just a 1-point lead over Masters, 47.4% to 46.4%.
Both surveys have the Senate race within the margin of error, and HighGround sees evidence that Masters is making inroads with non-affliated voters, though Kelly still holds a significant lead with independents in the firm’s poll.
“There are Republicans, there are Democrats and then there’s ‘other.’ There’s not an Independent party within the state,” explained Paul Bentz, HighGround Senior Vice President for Research and Strategy. Of the “others,” Bentz says about two-thirds are unaffiliated voters referred to as PND, or party not declared. The other one-third are considered Independents, who were formally Republicans or Democrats. Kelly’s campaign has painted him as a moderate candidate, and it may pay off as Independents are going for Kelly 43 to 29% over Masters.
HighGround’s survey shows that Kelly’s lead among PND voters has narrowed to about five points: 39.5% to 34.6%, meaning he’s not getting as much support from Independents as he was before. Bentz adds that Masters has solidified his lead in the 65 and older category, similar to the governor’s race where a large percentage of survey participants in that age group said they would vote for Kari Lake over Katie Hobbs.
Masters has been challenging the idea that Mark Kelly is a “moderate” Democrat in the mold of Kyrsten Sinema (whose moderation hasn’t helped her at all with Democrat Party stalwarts in the state, by the way), pointing to the fact that Kelly has been a reliable vote for Joe Biden’s agenda over the past two years.
Masters has focused his campaign on Kelly’s voting record with Biden; the two Democrats have agreed with each other 94% of the time over the past two years, according to FiveThirtyEight. Kelly has tried to fend off Masters’ attacks by pointing to analyses that rank Kelly as one of the most bipartisan senators.
“Two thirds [of independents] know that Biden has failed. They want to send a senator to D.C. to check Joe Biden – only one third want ascend a senator to D.C. to enable Joe Biden,” Masters told The Daily Wire in an interview last month. “Mark Kelly is carpet bombing the airwaves pretending to be an independent. … He’s not an independent. Actually, he votes in lockstep for Joe Biden’s agenda.”
That’s certainly the case when it comes to Biden’s gun control agenda, as you might expect from the co-founder of the gun control group Giffords. Kelly voted in favor of the Senate gun bill that was signed by Biden earlier this year, and cast his vote in support of Biden’s second choice for ATF Director Steve Dettelbach as well. It’s worth noting, however, that Kelly wasn’t vocal in demanding passage of either the Senate bill or Biden’s ATF nominee. In fact, he’s taken great pains to play down his desire for criminalizing the right to keep and bear arms since arriving in Washington, D.C. after winning a special election in 2020. Kelly’s campaign website makes no mention whatsoever of gun control, and the issue didn’t come up during his recent debate with Masters; something that probably worked to Kelly’s benefit given Arizona’s status as a Constitutional Carry state.
At the moment, it sure looks like Masters is gaining momentum with the electorate, and this race is likely to be nail-biter as we watch the returns come in on the night of November 8th. Blake Masters has a real chance to pull off the upset and send the Senate’s stealthiest anti-gun advocate packing in just a few weeks, especially if Arizona gun owners turn out and vote like their rights depend on it over the next three weeks.