Thursday, October 14, 2021


It was only a couple of weeks ago that National Journal's Josh Kraushaar was touting a poll showing Kyrsten Sinema with higher approval ratings in Arizona than Mark Kelly, the state's other senator, who's a much more mainstream Democrat.

Around the same time, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo described Sinema as doomed to lose a 2024 primary -- but then he posted a reply from an Arizona reader arguing that Sinema's plan is to beat any Democratic challengers by drawing a large number of independent voters (who can vote in party primaries in Arizona), at which point she'll have a good shot at winning the general election.

But a new poll from Data for Progress suggests that she's unlikely to survive a primary.
Seventy percent of prospective 2024 primary voters have a negative opinion of Sinema, with just 24% expressing a positive view of the first-term senator. Nearly half have a “very unfavorable” opinion. For contrast, 85% of primary voters have a favorable opinion of Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), who is also in his first term.

The survey tested Sinema against four different potential primary challengers: Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Iraq War veteran who represents Phoenix and whose name often comes up in conversations about potential threats to Sinema; Rep. Greg Stanton, a former mayor of Phoenix; Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego; and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero.

If all four candidates ran ― an unlikely scenario for many reasons, including the fact that Ruben and Kate Gallego used to be married to each other ― the survey has Ruben Gallego earning 23% of the vote to Sinema’s 19% and Stanton’s 13%. Both Romero and Kate Gallego would theoretically earn 9% of the vote.

But head-to-head matchups drive home how dire Sinema’s position could be. All four potential challengers have massive leads: Ruben Gallego leads Sinema 62% to 23%; Kate Gallego has a 60% to 25% edge; Stanton leads 59% to 24%; and Romero leads 55% to 26%.
And no, she's not doing well among independents in this poll, or at least among independents who are likely to vote in the Democratic primary -- with that group, she's at 37% approval, 58% disapproval.

It's early, and she can theoretically turn this around. But it seems obvious that her corporate owners have tasked her with killing the Biden agenda, not merely watering it down. The earlier poll quoted by Kraushaar might not have been an extreme outlier -- there could have been many Arizona voters who thought it was good to negotiate the contents of this legislation from the center. But voters eventually want legislators to do something, and it's clear that Sinema wants the opposite. If she doesn't find a way to vote for this -- and I don't think she will -- she's doomed as a Democrat.

She clearly doesn't believe that -- she's in Europe now trying to raise campaign cash from Americans living abroad, according to The New York Times, although it's not clear whether she's raising cash for Senate Democrats as a group or for herself.

She can't be gearing up to run in the Republican primary, can she? Last month, Josh Marshall took a look at a Bendixen & Amandi poll conducted in June:
Just 47% of Dems approved her performance as Senator. Only 46% of independents approved. But she had a new superpower. Her approval among Republicans was an eye-popping 54%. Only 32% disapproved....

She’d built a constituency of partisan Republicans who really like her because she’s constantly wrongfooting her own party.
And that was in June. Now it's clear that she's sent the Biden agenda to the intensive care unit, where it might not pull through. She might actually kill the bill all by herself, doing that thumbs-down thing she stole from John McCain, with the curtsy added just to twist the knife.

They'll love her. She'll be the new Tulsi Gabbard. Maybe she'll even start arguing that the 2020 election was stolen.

What if her plan is to win the Republican primary with a combination of registered party voters and independents? It might seem impossible, given her voting record, which is disappointingly compromised to us but is far to the left of the typical Republican's record. But maybe they'll just treat her the way they treat Elise Stefanik, who was a moderate Republican before she became a Trump cheerleader -- they won't care about her past as long as she owns the libs now.

With Sinema, I don't think we should rule out anything, except the possibility that she'll do the right thing.

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