Republican Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters took the lead over Democratic Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly for the first time in a Friday Emerson College poll.
Masters was favored by 48% of respondents, taking a one-point lead over Kelly after months of trailing the incumbent Democrat, the poll found. Masters has been slowly climbing in popularity and was tied with Kelly in other recent polls, though Kelly has a one-point lead in the RealClearPolitics polling average.
About 1% of voters were undecided, and Masters’ new lead is within the 3% margin of error, meaning the race is effectively tied.
Democratic incumbents have struggled in the leadup to midterm elections amid widespread concern about inflation, crime and the economy. Independent voters favored Kelly at 50% to 42%, the poll found.
“Democratic candidates for Senate and Governor face strong headwinds in Arizona. They have an unpopular Democratic president, a Republican statewide electorate, and the economy as a top of mind issue for many voters,” Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, told Fox News. “Right now, they are offsetting these disadvantages by carrying independents and attracting more Republican voters than their opponents are gaining among Democrats. This all adds up to two very close contests.”
Marc Victor, the Libertarian Party nominee for Arizona Senator, dropped out of the race Monday and threw his support behind Masters. Masters has also received endorsements from former President Donald Trump and former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
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Masters is widely viewed as a leader of the “new right” or national conservative movement, given his emphasis on social issues, immigration and crime. He’s been critical of the Republican establishment, particularly the support many Republicans have given to multi-billion dollar aid packages to Ukraine.
Masters criticism of the Republican establishment came amid an apparent rift between himself and the GOP: the Senate Leadership Fund, which is affiliated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, pulled millions of dollars in ad buys for Masters in Arizona in August. McConnell was later involved in a September fundraising effort for Masters, and Masters declined to comment on the rumored dispute in an exclusive September interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The poll surveyed 1,000 very likely voters Oct. 30 – Nov. 1 with a 3% margin of error.
Kelly and Masters did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.