The Daily Agenda: A day at the horse races
Read the polls, just not literally ... He's just so miraculous ... And we love Director J content.
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We’re not big on polls and election predictions.
At their best, polls are accurate snapshots of public sentiment at a moment in time — and in politics, a lot can change in the next moment. At their worst, they’re political tools meant to sway public opinion, not reflect it.
We all know Arizona’s statewide races will be close — nearly every race is within the margin of error1 — so we don’t put a lot of stock in any single poll, especially this far before an election.
But polling, in the aggregate, can accurately reflect broad trends and provide a decent overview of which races will be harder fought than others. And the more dialed-in crosstabs focusing on a slice of the polled electorate can provide some valuable insight into where a candidate’s support is coming from or lacking. In other words, we think polls are worth reading, we just don’t read them literally.
With that in mind, we call your attention to a pair of newish polls from OH Predictive Insights, a local pollster, and Trafalgar, a Republican group, that offer vastly different results but seem to confirm conventional wisdom that the U.S. Senate race isn’t as tight as the rest of the statewide contests.
The OH poll shows Democrat Mark Kelly dominating Republican challenger Blake Masters in the U.S. Senate race by a margin of 12 percentage points. Meanwhile, Trafalgar shows Republicans statewide leading Democratic candidates, with the exception of Kelly, who still holds a narrow lead.
There are good reasons to doubt the exact findings from OH and Trafalgar (or any pollster, for that matter) but the takeaway isn’t so much the actual numbers as it is that both agree Kelly is leading the race right now.
Similarly, OH and Trafalgar agree Republican Mark Finchem is leading the secretary of state race over Democrat Adrian Fontes. (Trafalgar says by about 6 percentage points, which is just outside its margin of error, while OH says by 5 percentage points, inside its margin of error.)
But if we’re looking for election predictions, we prefer the less-scientific yet more honest assessments of groups like Cook Political Report, which take into account a variety of factors, including polling, campaign finance and some gut feelings, and which colored its ratings for two U.S. House races in Arizona one shade bluer yesterday.
U.S. Rep. David Schweikert’s district moved from “lean Republican” to “toss up,” with Cook’s David Wasserman noting that Democrat Jevin Hodge outraised Schweikert in three straight quarters and has a “likable by-the-bootstraps story.” And U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran’s district swung from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican” because O’Halleran is better funded and Republicans are swooping in to help Republican Eli Crane, which, Wasserman writes, they wouldn't do unless “they thought the race wasn't somewhat close.”2
Of course, seats in the Legislature and Congress are easier to handicap, considering the district makeup is always a little lopsided. But Arizona is increasingly a truly purple state, and when it comes to the statewide races, as far as we and Cook are concerned, they’re all tossups.
You can’t suspend me, I’m canceled: Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver will sell the team and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury rather than serve out his one-year suspension for making misogynistic and racist remarks, he announced yesterday, saying that he doesn’t think people will let him move on in the current “unforgiving climate.”
The court works on its own time: We’re all still waiting on that big abortion ruling that could revive a territorial-era law that would ban all abortions, except to save a mother’s life, and make criminals of doctors who perform abortions. It was expected as early as Tuesday, the Republic’s Ray Stern notes.
The truth is somewhere between the two: The Arizona Mirror’s Caitlin Sievers attempts to cut through the spin in the ongoing online spat between gubernatorial candidates Katie Hobbs and Kari Lake following Hobbs’ tweet about needing a D&C procedure after a miscarriage, and her claim that Lake would outlaw the procedure. Sievers writes that “Lake has proposed no policies to outlaw the procedure specifically,” but the kind of hardline abortion policies she supports have made it difficult for women in other states to get the procedures.
Three is a crowd: Axios’ Jeremy Duda breaks down independent Clint Smith’s campaign for Congress in the East Valley against U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs. Smith is a former Republican whose views more closely align with Democratic policies on issues like abortion, gun restrictions and immigration. Independents have a steep hill to climb, but the biggest problem Smith faces is a Democrat in the race, Javier Garcia Ramos, who has no plans to step aside to help the independent.
You were warned: Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer has been attempting to set expectations about the November election to get in front of any brewing conspiracies. His latest Twitter thread offers a helpful explanation of why races can swing wildly as counties tally different batches of ballots post-election night.
Vote local: The Republic’s Taylor Seely has a Q&A with the candidates and wrote a primer on the Phoenix City Council races, where four seats are up for grabs that could tip the balance between the progressive and moderate wing of the Democratic Party, and where a host of conservatives are duking it out to replace Sal DiCiccio.
It’s a Ducey miracle!: National Affairs has a 4,200 word story fawning over Gov. Doug Ducey and “the Arizona miracle” of charter schools and vouchers, regulatory reform and tax cuts. It included a few gems, like how Ducey became politicized by watching Ronald Reagan on a black-and-white TV in his dorm room and reading a loaned copy of the National Review and “Atlas Shrugged.”
“While there is no way to measure such things, I would venture to say that Ducey is the most successful governor in the United States today,” James K. Glassman writes.
Not a good track record: After news broke about the restraining order against former Department of Public Safety head Frank Milstead, the Democratic Governors Association noted that he starred in a recent ad from the Republican Governors Association attacking Hobbs. It’s not the first time the RGA made bad choices about its attack ad stars. Last month it aired an anti-Hobbs ad featuring a QAnon-linked woman.
Trusting the warden: A federal jury shot down a lawsuit from an Arizona prison inmate seeking $1.5 million after the man claimed Lewis prison Deputy Warden Joseph Pitz threatened him and ordered other prisoners to beat him for speaking out about conditions in the prison, the Republic’s Jimmy Jenkins reports.
Jack and the Bar: Attorney Jack Wilenchik responded to the State Bar of Arizona’s investigation into him over advising AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward and state Sen. Kelly Townsend that sending “fake electors,” as he called them, to Congress was not in fact “treasonous” as they were concerned. The Washington Post’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez has the letter, in which Wilenchik said he did not break any ethical rules and his clients were within their First Amendment rights to send the fake electors.
“In fact, if Mr. Wilenchik wanted to send his ‘vote’ to Congress right now that Joe Biden be impeached and replaced with Donald Trump, that would be perfectly legal,” he wrote.
It’s Korn!: Veteran suicides have dropped to the lowest rate in nearly 20 years, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. And Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch is teaming up with Alice Cooper’s Rock Teen Centers for a concert and mental health discussion with kids at a Mesa high school, the East Valley Tribune reports.
This made us 🙂.
Tim Jeffries AKA “Director J.” AKA “Wolverine” AKA “Flatliner,” the bizarre and cultish former leader of the Arizona Department of Economic Security who was fired after he conducted mass firings of “bullies” at the agency and hoarded ammunition for reasons that were never exactly clear, and then sued and threatened to run against his former boss, Gov. Doug Ducey, and who was last spotted shirtless slinging edgy shirts for God, is hosting a fundraiser for Kari Lake at his home in Scottsdale.
Lake once told an NRA crowd that she and her husband are stockpiling “a bunch” of AR-15s, so perhaps they can bond over that.
Margins of error are poorly understood metrics that should essentially be doubled, or be applied to both candidates’ totals. Meaning if a poll with a 3% margin of error puts Candidate A at 52% of the vote and Candidate B at 48%, the race is not outside the margin of error. Candidate A could be as low as 49% or as high as 55%, while support for Candidate B could range from 45% to 51%.
Arizona’s other two competitive congressional districts are CD4, where Democratic U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton is seeking re-election over Republican Kelly Cooper, and the open seat in southern Arizona where Republican Juan Ciscomani and Democrat Kirsten Engel are facing off. Cool ranked them as “likely Democratic” and “lean Republican,” respectively.