Washington

Doug Ducey — Still Resisting Calls to Run for Senate — Has Erased Mark Kelly’s Popularity Edge in Arizona

48% of Arizona voters approve of Ducey's job performance, while 46% approve of Kelly's

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), left, attends the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns at Phoenix Suns Arena in July 2021. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who has resisted calls to seek the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in November, has seen his home-state popularity improve in recent months. And according to Morning Consult Political Intelligence tracking, his recovery has erased the popularity advantage the first-term senator had at the beginning of Joe Biden’s presidency.

What the numbers say

  • The latest polling found that 48 percent of Arizona voters approve of Ducey’s job performance, up 6 percentage points from early 2021, when the two-term governor was facing ire from some Republicans for upholding former President Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat in his state. Over the same time period, the share of Arizona voters who disapprove of Ducey fell 4 points, to 44 percent.
  • Kelly has maintained support from 46 percent of Arizonans, but the share who disapprove of his job performance has increased 9 points, to 42 percent, since Biden took office, when roughly 1 in 5 voters had yet to form an opinion on him.
  • While Ducey has seen his support among Republicans improve and Kelly has maintained solid backing among Democrats, the coalition underwriting Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s approval rating has shifted over the past year: 43 percent of Democrats approve of Sinema’s job performance, down 24 points, while 55 percent of Republicans approve, up 20 points over that time.

The context

Ducey has repeatedly insisted he will not run for Senate this year, something he reiterated in an interview with Politico on the sidelines of the National Governors Association meeting over the weekend. But that hasn’t stopped hopeful chatter from at least some national and Arizona Republicans that he will change his mind given the high stakes of the contest for the party’s goal of winning a Senate majority.

Like many other states, Democrats in Arizona are left to grapple with Biden’s own diminished standing and the national political environment. The majority of Arizona voters (54 percent) disapprove of his job performance, up from 41 percent almost a year ago, while the share who approve has fallen from 51 percent to 42 percent.

The upside for Kelly is that he has so far resisted a Biden drag on his own approval rating, which several Democratic strategists attribute to his own unique brand — propped up by the nearly $100 million his campaign spent to defeat Republican Martha McSally in 2020. But increasingly negative views among independent voters and Republicans are a cause for political concern in a state whose suburbs were key to Democratic victories in the past two cycles.

The latest polling was conducted Dec. 21, 2021, through Jan. 20, 2022, among a representative sample of 3,787 Arizona registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 points. 

Morning Consult