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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
HomeNewsElectionsWhy the Election Model Favors Martha McSally in Arizona Senate Race

Why the Election Model Favors Martha McSally in Arizona Senate Race

Voting, elections and state polls concept: Ballot box with state flag in the background - Arizona. (Photo: AdobeStock)
Voting, elections and state polls concept: Ballot box with state flag in the background - Arizona. (Photo: AdobeStock)

Voting, elections and state polls concept: Ballot box with state flag in the background – Arizona. (Photo: AdobeStock)

The U.S. Senate election projection in Arizona held at Slightly Republican in favor of Rep. Martha McSally on the PPD Election Projection Model. Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema would need to win the independent and Election Day vote by overwhelming margins in order to prevail.

There are roughly 3.7 million registered voters in Arizona.

Of the 1,586,783 voters who have already cast their ballots, 656,822 are Republican ballots, 538,174 are Democratic ballots, 11,799 are minor parties and 379,988 are independents, or other. Below is a district-by-district table breakdown of the early vote by party, including the secretary of state update for Monday.

[su_table responsive=”yes” class=”az-ev-district-party-totals”]

District Democrat Minor Republican Other Total Edge
1 57161 969 61840 36247 156217 R+4679
2 83046 1570 72147 48146 204909 D+10899
3 56319 946 30696 25366 113327 D+25623
4 40888 1094 100622 47129 189733 R+59734
5 55596 1661 105508 52362 215127 R+49912
6 64102 1656 101918 54794 222470 R+37816
7 49955 818 17378 20027 88178 D+32577
8 61378 1370 106367 54105 223220 R+44989
9 69729 1715 60346 41812 173602 D+9383
Total 538174 11799 656822 379988 1586783 R+118648


There is no doubt both parties got their bases to the polls for midterms. For the purpose of this article we are focusing on the statewide impact, but the impact can be seen in the districts, as well.

The pickup opportunity for Democrats in Rep. McSally’s district could very well be offset by a net pickup for the GOP in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. Again, as with so many of these races, the independents will decide the outcome. Here is the county-by-county table breakdown of the early vote by party.

[su_table responsive=”yes” class=”az-ev-county-party-totals”]

County Democrat Minor Republican OTH Total Edge
Apache 4310 33 2564 1477 8384 D+1750
Cochise 8740 195 12158 6656 27749 R+3418
Coconino 13862 307 9077 7300 30546 D+4785
Gila 4217 76 7670 2887 14850 R+3453
Graham 1714 25 3414 904 6057 R+1700
Greenlee 784 12 538 266 1600 D+246
La Paz 583 15 1562 731 2891 R+979
Maricopa 319709 7645 413398 236538 977290 R+93689
Mohave 8078 168 23695 10147 42088 R+15617
Navajo 6075 96 8791 3633 18595 R+2716
Pima 116340 2061 88060 62393 268854 D+28280
Pinal 20780 439 30642 18015 69876 R+9862
Santa Cruz 4373 50 1603 1560 7586 D+2770
Yavapai 18922 506 41749 20773 81950 R+22827
Yuma 9687 171 11901 6708 28467 R+2214
Total 538174 11799 656822 379988 1586783 R+118648


Polls are all over the place. Our data indicates the independent vote, once breaking heavily for Rep. Sinema, shifted considerably. In truth, we’ve seen independents in Arizona flirt with the idea of voting for Democratic candidates statewide, only to swing back in the final stretch.

Rep. Sinema not only needs to carry a bloc of voters who haven’t backed a Democrat since 2008, when Barack Obama won them by just 51% to 46%, but she’ll need to do it by a huge margin. It would be historic.

(Please note: Estimates peg early vote in Arizona upwards of 80% before Election Day. This number is of course unknown and why we model several turnout different outcomes.)

In order to simply pull to a statistical tie, she would need to be winning both the unaffiliated “other” and minor-party vote by a margin roughly in the 2-to-1 ballpark. Again, some polling suggests it is possible, and some polling does not.

How does this task match up to the historic vote? Politics is filled with first-timers, but it’s not been done by a modern Democrat in the state of Arizona.

Mr. Obama went on to lose independents in Arizona to Mitt Romney by nearly the same margin he had previously carried them against John McCain, 51% to 45%. Donald Trump carried independents in Arizona, 47% to 44%, while outgoing Republican Senator Jeff Flake won them by just 46% to 45%.

But for Rep. Sinema to overcome the R+118,648 early vote lead, up from R+116,009 before the Monday update, she would first need a historic margin no Democrat has received among independents in the Grand Canyon State. Further, considering what vote is left on the table, she will also need a monster Election Day turnout that favors Democrats.

Judging by the data, which include what electorate is showing up, there’s not much evidence outside of some polls indicating she’ll get enough. That being said, polling also indicates Rep. McSally has a larger share of the vote left on the table. Rep. Sinema will almost certainly need every vote she can get.

While Green Party candidate Angela Green withdrew from the race in a last-minute attempt to boost Rep. Sinema’s chances, some of the state’s 6,463 registered members undoubtedly already voted for Green, whose name will remain on the ballot. That would actually expand the model’s required margin among independents for the Democratic candidate, given polling data indicates single-digit crossover rates only slightly favoring Rep. Sinema.

Before the update on Monday, which gave Rep. Sinema a nice few thousand-vote boost in Pima County, the electorate looked like this.

[su_table responsive=”yes” class=”az-ev-electorate-totals”]

Republican Democrat Other Female Median Age Mean Age
41.8% 33.9% 23.6% 51.2% 62 58.7
Republican 48.5% 63 61.3
Democrat 57.5% 61 57.2
Other 47.4% 59 56.6
Libertarian 33.7% 45 46
Green 43.5% 46 46.9


After the update on Monday, the electorate shifted slightly in favor of Rep. Sinema, though it’s only marginally better for Democrats. It’s worth noting that a popular GOP governor running away with the vote is also on the same ballot. Even the slightest of coattails in a race like this could mean an earlier call.

[su_table responsive=”yes” class=”az-ev-electorate-totals”]

Republican Democrat Other Female Median Age Mean Age
41.4% 33.9% 23.9% 51.3% 61 58.2
Republican 48.5% 63 60.9
Democrat 57.7% 60 56.2
Other 47.6% 59 56
Libertarian 33.7% 44 45.5
Green 43.9% 45 46.5


Regardless, Rep. McSally’s edge wasn’t hurt all that much in the latest update. The net partisan ballot edge gained even as the mean age ticked down by 0.5% and the Republican share of the electorate ticked down slightly to 41.4%. That may have something to do with the mean age of the Republican electorate also ticking down by 0.4%.

Overall, the Republican share of the vote is still nearly double what it was in 2016.

While we hear talk of a surge in younger voters at the polls, as we pointed out in our last model update in Nevada, these comparisons have focused on 2014. As with Nevada, there were not comparable statewide elections held.

So, to sum it up, we do believe it is possible for Rep. Sinema to improve her party’s margin among independent voters in Arizona, particularly if it is more educated and less rural. But the historical odds are against this. Republicans are voting at very high rates and have showed no signs up letting up. Recent polling indicates as much as 30% of Rep. McSally’s vote is still on the table, while just 10% for Rep. Sinema.

We will watch the electorate closely and the independent vote. But for now, the U.S. Senate election projection in Arizona remains Slightly Republican. Rep. McSally prevails in the high Republican turnout model, the base model and only loses by under two points in the high Democratic turnout model.

Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

Latest comments

  • Every voter in Arizona should watch this video. Pass it on.

  • Thank you for the breakdown on the actual numbers! It is getting hard to find that since people only want to talk polls. I like researching the actual numbers. You will hear one site say McSally Polls up by 5% or “Surge of Democrat voting has Sinema ahead”….all while showing no info. Good work.

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