Biden Holds Narrow Lead in Arizona, Polls Show

This combination of Sept. 29, 2020, file photos show President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(CN) — Two polls out Wednesday show former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump in the Republican stronghold Arizona — but one shows a narrowing lead while both are within the margin of error.

The Monmouth University Polling Institute and OH Predictive Insights surveys show the president’s support slipping since September in a state no Democrat has won since Bill Clinton in 1996. And if Democrat Mark Kelly’s lead over incumbent Senator Martha McSally holds, Arizona would have two Democratic senators for the first time since 1953.

“Biden is currently on track to do slightly better than Clinton did with Latino voters and possibly white voters as well,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Those shifts would be enough for a victory if these numbers hold.”

The Monmouth poll taken Oct. 9-13 shows Biden leading Trump 50% to 44% with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, and an Oct. 4-8 survey from the Phoenix research firm OH Predictive Insights has Biden leading the president 49% to 45% with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points..

Monmouth had the former longtime Delaware senator leading Trump 48% to 44% a month ago and 46 to 44% just before the state’s March primary. A September OH poll had Biden leading 52% to 42%.

For the first time in its monthly poll, OH included Libertarian Jo Jorgensen.

The Clemson University instructor drew 4% support in the OH poll and 2% in the Monmouth poll. Jorgensen could make a difference in a tight race in Arizona, where roughly a third of voters are registered as independents. Their support is key in any statewide race.

Jorgensen appears to bleed slightly more support from Trump than Biden. When the Libertarian was excluded from the choices, 50% chose Biden and 47% chose Trump, the OH poll showed.

Loyalty to Trump among Arizona Republicans has slipped since his narrow 2016 win over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to OH.

While 97% of 2016 Clinton voters polled plan to vote for Biden, just 87% of Trump voters plan to repeat. And while just 4% of Clinton voters plan to vote for the president, 7% of Trump’s 2016 voters plan to vote for Biden, the OH poll showed.

High turnout would help Biden, according to Monmouth. With high turnout, 51% would go to the former Delaware senator and 44% for Trump, but with lower turnout Biden would get 49% to 47% for Trump, the institute predicted.

Arizona’s Senate race between retired combat pilots — Kelly from the Navy and McSally from the Air Force — is also leaning blue, both polls showed.

OH shows Kelly, a former space shuttle commander, leading the first woman to fly a U.S. combat mission 50% to 45%, and the Monmouth survey had the state’s junior senator trailing 52% to 42%.

Although Kelly and McSally, appointed in 2018 to replace Senator John McCain who died in office, have almost identical support in their own parties, McSally trails 62% to 28% among independents, OH said.

“Martha McSally’s base strategy has finally started paying dividends,” said Mike Noble, OH Predictive’s chief of research. “However, by playing this game, she has lost major ground with Independents.”

McSally has more than 50% support among rural voters (51%); those 55 or older (54%); and non-college educated voters (54%). Kelly had 50% or better support in the population centers of Pima (59%) and Maricopa (50%) counties; voters under age 55 (55%); and those with college degrees (59%), the OH poll showed.

The Monmouth poll showed McSally’s support jumping among voters aged 50-64, from 38% in September to 51% this month, while Kelly’s dipped from 56% a month ago to 45%. Monmouth also showed Kelly leading 56% to 37% among voters under 50, a shift from McSally’s 48% to 45% lead in September.

Overall, Arizona voters are slightly more likely to see McSally as too supportive of Trump (49%) than to see Kelly as beholden to the left (47%), the Monmouth poll showed. But among independent voters, 57% see McSally as too supportive of the president and just 37% think Kelly would favor the left.

“Both campaigns have been trying to paint their opponents in a negative light,” Murray said. “Among that all-important group of independent voters, the image of McSally as a rubberstamp for Trump has more resonance than Kelly being portrayed as in lockstep with the left.”

Both polls showed growing support for Arizona’s cannabis legalization measure, which would allow anyone over 21 to carry up to an ounce of cannabis and grow six plants.

While the voter initiative drew equal support and opposition in a September OH poll, the October survey shows 55% support and 37% opposition.

Support also grew in the Monmouth poll. A September Monmouth poll showed 51% support and 41% opposition to the adult-use cannabis law, while the October survey showed 56% support and 36% opposition.

Early voting in Arizona kicked off last week.

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