Dem poll: Sinema up in Ariz. House race

September 14, 2012

Democratic state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has a 4-point lead over Republican Vernon Parker in Arizona’ newly created 9th Congressional District, according to a poll conducted for three Democratic groups supporting Sinema’s campaign.

Sinema’s lead grows to 10 points when poll respondents hear a battery of positive and negative messages about both candidates, the survey found.

The poll was conducted by GBA Strategies and commissioned by House Majority PAC, AFSCME and EMILY’s List, and shared with POLITICO by a source involved in the race.

Sinema and Parker, the former mayor of Paradise Valley emerged from competitive primaries last month to compete for their state’s new House seat. Democrats have viewed the 9th as an opportunity to gain a seat, but Sinema comes into the race with some clear vulnerabilities: she has been involved in the past with groups highly critical of Israel and has described stay-at-home moms as “leeching” off their husbands.” She would also be the first openly bisexual member of Congress, if elected.

None of that appears to undercut support for Sinema’s campaign in the House Majority PAC/AFSCME/EMILY’s List poll. Sinema starts out with a 45-41 percent lead over Parker in the survey. When voters hear a paragraph of positive information about each candidate, that moves to a 50-42 percent lead.

“Voters respond well to Sinema’s background as a social worker and her work in the state legislature on education and children’s health care,” the pollster writes. After hearing the positive profiles above for each candidate, voters heard about potential vulnerabilities for both candidates (with a slight imbalance in Sinema’s favor).  These messages only expanded Sinema’s advantage to 10 points (48 – 38 percent), demonstrating how difficult it will be for Parker to overcome voter concerns about the extreme positions he has staked out on a number of issues critical to voters in this Democratic-leaning district. “

Democrats have long believed they had a good shot at winning the 9th, based on the composition of the district. They’re also taking precautions to make sure: House Majority PAC has a big TV reservation in the Phoenix market, partly for this seat.

If the poll results hold, you could have the unusual outcome of Arizona electing a stridently liberal member of Congress from a potentially competitive seat, at the same time that the state as a whole breaks solidly for the GOP in the presidential race. The opposite outcome would be newsworthy, too, as Parker would join the small number of black Republicans in Congress.