The deep red state of Arizona is looking more like purple these days and — at least in the race for the U.S. Senate — could turn blue for the first time since the mid-1990s.
Krysten Sinema is the frontrunner among Democrats and beats all of the Republican challengers in head to head match ups according to a new poll by OH Predictive Insight and ABC 15 television in Phoenix.
The race is to replace Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who announced last fall he would not run for re-election, at least in part because of his disagreements with President Trump.
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Sinema is the odds-on favorites to win the Democratic primary in August and then the election in November as well.
— ABC15 Arizona (@abc15) April 19, 2018
In head to head matchups against Republicans, Sinema leads Rep. Martha McSally, a former Air Force officer who is the mainstream Republican frontrunner by 48 to 42 points. McSally supported the Trump tax cuts for the rich and was caught planting favorable comments about herself on social media.
She leads former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who has the backing of Steve Bannon, by 50 to 40 points. Ward favors arresting anyone who enforces federal gun laws and has campaigned with a Nazi sympathizer.
And she tops disgraced former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an alt-right ultra-conservative, anti-immigrant hardliner and unrepentant birther who got a pardon from President Trump by 59 to 33 points.
Sinema, currently the only openly bisexual member of Congress, is a Representative for an area that includes Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa, Arizona voter registration stats show Republicans at about 35 percent, Democrats with about 30 percent and independents at about 35 percent.
All of the Republicans are running to support Trump while Sinema insists the president is not a factor in the race as far as she is concerned. Trump is “not a thing,” Sinema told USA Today last November.
“It’s not about a party; it never is about party,” said Sinema. “It’s about putting people ahead of party. I don’t think party matters much to people.
Although Trump won Arizona in the 2016 election by about 3.5 percentage points, the president has become very unpopular in the state according to the poll, which shows he is viewed unfavorably by all voters by 46 to 43 percentage points, and more importantly, is disliked by independent voters by a huge margin of 74 to 25 percent.
While a Democrat, Sinema has voted about half the time with Trump and the Republicans, so she is considered very much middle of the road, although Republicans will try hard to paint her as a big government, free-spending progressive in November.
— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) April 19, 2018
Sinema has evolved into a moderate after starting her political career as a member of the Green Party and much more liberal.
Her background is anything but typical. Sinema’s family fell out of the middle class and become homeless when she was a child, and she has said the assistance her family got from the government and church got them through those difficult times.
She earned a masters, law degree, and doctorate at Brigham Young University but after growing up Mormon now says she has no religious preference.
When critics point to her early liberalism Sinema says it is “a sign of a mature human – someone open to new information” who “changes his or her opinion based on that new information.”
If elected to the Senate, Sinema would be the first Democrat to represent Arizona since Dennis DiConcini in 1995, and before him Ernest McFarland in 1953. No Democrat has won statewide office in Arizona since then-Governor Janet Napolitano in 2006.
It would take only a few Democratic wins to gain control of the U.S. Senate again and polls show a Democratic surge is likely in both the House and Senate, so that could help carry Sinema to Washington, even if she doesn’t say much about Trump.
The president has a way of speaking for himself, and so far that has made him among the most unpopular American leaders in modern history.