Doug Ducey and David Garcia will face off in the race for governor of Arizona. Here’s what Arizonans can expect in the lead up to the general election.
Arizona Republic, Arizona Republic

Republican incumbent Doug Ducey is neck-and-neck with Democratic challenger David Garcia in the race for governor, according to a post-primary poll of Arizona voters.

The poll — conducted by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling on behalf of Garcia’s campaign — found that 44 percent of voters supported Ducey, 43 percent backed Garcia and 13 percent remained undecided.

Among Republicans, Ducey retained strong support, with 78 percent of those voters backing him. Overall, Ducey’s approval rating hovered at 42 percent, with 45 percent of voters unimpressed with the governor’s performance.

“I think this poll shows what we’ve known all along: that this is a competitive election and that Doug Ducey is in big trouble,” said Ian Danley, Garcia’s campaign manager. “President Trump has made Republicans a toxic brand across the country through his reckless and dangerous administration. And Ducey has failed in his No. 1 commitment: public education.”

Campaign representatives for Ducey, who has a history of outperforming polls at the ballot box, issued a statement saying Public Policy Polling is a “known Democrat polling firm” whose “biased numbers do not match our internals.”

“The more voters learn of Garcia’s extreme positions on border security, education and the economy, the further his candidacy will tank,” the statement said.

Poll follows attack ads, missteps

Public Policy Polling interviewed 554 Arizona voters on Aug. 30 and 31, a few days after the primary election. It used Interactive Voice Response, which replaces live operators with recorded prompts, to collect results.

IVR polls usually outperform online polls in accuracy, but live-operator polls tend to be more reliable than those conducted using IVR. Public Policy Polling holds a “B” rating with data-analysis website FiveThirtyEight, which says its results aligned with election outcomes 80 percent of the time.

The survey followed weeks of attack ads directed at Garcia, along with a handful of campaign missteps by the Democratic candidate. It also coincided with the #InvestInEd income-tax measure being thrown off the November ballot.

The state Supreme Court on Aug. 29 decided the measure’s language “did not accurately represent the increased tax burden on the affected classes of taxpayers.”

The verdict reignited the anger that spurred the #RedForEd teacher walkout this spring, with supporters of the measure vowing to vote out lawmakers they believe aren’t sufficiently committed to public education.

Court ruling a factor?

Two schools of thought quickly emerged regarding how that outrage would affect the governor’s race.

Some believed it would benefit Garcia, a longtime educator, because he could use the ruling to attack Ducey, who appointed three of the seven Supreme Court justices.

Others, including Republican strategist Chuck Coughlin, thought the verdict would help Ducey.

“The age-old rule in politics is, ‘If you’re explaining, you’re losing,’” Coughlin told The Republic shortly after the ruling. “When you have a ballot issue, all you have to say is, ‘I support it. My opponent doesn’t.’ They don’t have that anymore, so in my view, they’re explaining, not selling.”

Garcia performed well with Democratic voters in the poll, with 74 percent of them saying they supported him.

Nearly 40 percent of voters overall said they didn’t know enough about Garcia to have an opinion about him, indicating either that Garcia’s messaging is falling short or that his supporter base has room to grow.

The poll’s margin of error was 4.2 percentage points.



This is what Arizonans need to know to make sure their vote is counted for the general election in November.
William Flannigan, azcentral

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