By: Rachel Leingang
Gov. Doug Ducey is vulnerable to a Democratic challenger in the 2018 election as voters find him lukewarm, a new poll shows.
The poll by Democratic-leaning national firm Lake Research Partners, commissioned by ProgressNow Arizona, surveyed 600 likely voters using both landlines and cell phones – 44 percent registered Republicans and 32 percent Democrats – weighted for factors like party registration, geography and gender.
According to the polling memo, 74 percent of the voters sampled participated in the 2014 elections.
The key takeaway, pollsters Joshua Ulibarri and Caroline Bye concluded, is that Ducey is vulnerable to a challenger, if that challenger can make the race competitive.
Lake Research concluded that Ducey “lacks any real definition among voters.” Ducey is up by only 8 percentage points in his favorability ratings, trails by 16 percentage points in his job performance rating, and couldn’t break the 40-percent mark in a head-to-head matchup with a generic Democrat, the poll showed.
The pollsters concluded that if the circumstances are right, and there is a well-funded effort, Ducey can be defeated.
But it remains to be seen if David Garcia or Sen. Steve Farley, who are running for governor in the Democratic primary, can capitalize on Ducey’s vulnerability and mount the type of campaign needed to oust Ducey, a prolific fundraiser who can easily tap into money from the Koch Brothers network.
The most recent campaign finance reports showed Ducey had raised more than $3 million this cycle, while Farley brought in more than $500,000 and Garcia nearly $300,000.
The Democratic nominee would need a serious influx of support, likely from national Democratic groups, at a time when several other races in the state, like the U.S. Senate and 2nd Congressional District, could be Democratic pickups.
Sixty percent of respondents gave Ducey a favorable review, while 45 percent said he was doing a good or excellent job as governor, the poll shows. Among Republicans, 49 percent said he was doing excellent or good, while only 29 percent of independents and 25 percent of Democrats gave him the excellent/good ratings.
The poll matched Ducey against a generic Democrat and found he got 36 percent of the vote compared to 28 percent for an unnamed Democrat. The publicly released poll didn’t show any matchups between Farley or Garcia and Ducey.
The generic Democrat and Ducey both underperformed their party registration numbers, the pollsters pointed out, meaning there’s room to consolidate the vote.
“But this is particularly risky territory for an incumbent governor,” the firm wrote. “It is rare for a majority of undecided voters to break for the incumbent, and that is what Ducey would need at this point in the cycle to secure a majority.”
Part of Ducey’s problem with voters, the poll projects, is his lack of definition on key issues that matter to voters, like school funding, health care, and having the wealthy pay their fair share.
“The circumstances exist for progressives to make this a competitive race if they keep applying pressure and define the frame for this election,” the poll concludes. “That will take time, effort, and money. If not, partisan habits can set in and Ducey can secure re- election, but the opportunity is real.”
Ducey’s campaign spokesman, J.P. Twist, feigned surprise that a poll commissioned by a Democratic group would reinforce a Democratic narrative and be touted by Democrats.
“I know Democrats may be on cloud nine after a visit from their liberal leader Nancy Pelosi, but the reality is, Gov. Ducey enters 2018 in the strongest possible position. A growing economy, dropping unemployment, wage growth, billions of new dollars invested into our schools…” Twist said in an email to the Arizona Capitol Times.
Garcia’s campaign spokeswoman, Sarah Elliott, said the poll reinforces the idea that Ducey isn’t well-known or popular in Arizona because “he has abandoned regular Arizonans, starved our public schools, and is simply looking out for himself and the interests of the top 1 percent. He’s just another out of touch greedy politician.”
The poll confirms Ducey is weak and hasn’t delivered on his promises since taking office, Farley campaign manager Joe Wolf said.
“Glowing and aspirational State of the State speeches will only get you so far. Eventually you have to deliver on your promises to voters. Ducey hasn’t done that and now he’s in trouble. I bet his staff are scrambling to find out when the next Koch retreat is,” Wolf said in an email.
Originally posted to azcapitoltimes.com