Kari Lake may not be the next governor of Arizona, but that doesn’t mean her political career is over. Far from it, actually, if a new poll is any indication.
Even as Lake pursues her court battle over the November governor’s election, an early poll exploring what might happen in the contentious 2024 Arizona senatorial race found that Lake is in first place in what will likely be a three-way race.
According to the survey by Blueprint Polling, released on Wednesday, Lake is leading by 4 points over Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego and by 22 points over incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, now an independent.
While Arizona trends conservative generally, the GOP has lost three straight Senate contests. Martha McSally was beaten by Sinema in 2018 and Sen. Mark Kelly in a 2020 special election for the seat of the late Sen. John McCain. Kelly won a full term in November by beating political novice Blake Masters.
Both Kelly and Sinema charted a path to victory by billing themselves as independent moderates, It also didn’t help that neither McSally nor Masters, while both credible and capable conservatives, seemed to catch on with voters.
However, it’s the whole “independent moderate” thing that’s made the 2024 Arizona race one of the most interesting in the nation. While Kelly’s party independence is mostly an invention of his handlers, Sinema seems to have taken her own rhetoric seriously — and Democrats are thoroughly unhappy about that.
Sinema’s refusal to do away with the filibuster doomed a bill that would have remade American voting laws to erode election security and put the thumb of the federal government on the scales of democracy in order to favor the left. Despite being pro-abortion, she also refused to budge on nuking the 60-vote supermajority when it came to codifying Roe v. Wade nationally, as well.
Late last year, Sinema announced she was leaving the Democrats and turning independent. While the move more accurately reflects her political views, it also felicitously allows her to avoid a primary contest with Gallego, a far more liberal politician whom Arizona’s leftist activist base has been pushing to challenge her.
The divided Democratic vote is a prime opportunity for Lake — a former news anchor for a Phoenix TV station who, despite being declared the loser of the 2022 gubernatorial election, was one of the few breakout GOP stars of the last election cycle.
And, as Blueprint Polling noted in its Wednesday news release, “Sinema runs a distant third in a hypothetical three- way race in the general that also includes 2022 GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego.”
“Kari Lake polls at 36% in a three-way Senate race with Gallego and Sinema. The congressman follows closely at 32% while the incumbent polls less than 14%. One in six voters are undecided,” the news release stated.
“Sinema draws support from both Republicans and Democrats—she gets the vote of 15% of Biden 2020 voters and 11% of Trump 2020 voters. 23% of Biden voters remain undecided in the race (compared to 13% of Trump voters), suggesting that some Democrats may be waiting to see how the race shakes out before backing a candidate.
“Still, Sinema’s best hope for a return to the US Senate may be for the Republican party [sic] to nominate a candidate so flawed that moderate and conservative voters would abandon that person for the Independent Sinema.”
2024 AZ Senate Poll: @blueprintpoll
Kari Lake (R): 36%
Ruben Gallego (D): 32%
Kyrsten Sinema (I): 14%
618 V, January 5-8https://t.co/iTvDUhDAoW
— InteractivePolls (@IAPolls2022) January 11, 2023
The survey, taken between Jan. 5-8 among 618 Arizona voters using a combination of phone calls and text messages to cellular numbers, has a margin of error of 3.9 percent.
Granted, it’s early days, at least as much as a 2024 senatorial race is concerned.
Lake is still challenging the results of the 2022 gubernatorial race, arguing that the chaos and breakdowns that plagued in-person voting in Maricopa County on Election Day cost her the election. For that matter, Sinema could look at the polling tea leaves and, realizing her electoral doom is essentially assured, bow out of contention entirely.
That said, Gallego is hardly independent or moderate and wouldn’t even bother feigning it. That’s an issue for a Democrat who hopes to win a statewide Arizona election.
As for Lake, she already has one run for statewide office under her belt — and experience makes a massive difference when trying to woo voters who aren’t just agglomerated in a friendly congressional district.
Despite being smeared at every turn by the media as a tyro, a demagogue and a “denier” — the last of those being the most heinous thing a Republican can be called by media in 2023, at least that can be published without the use of obscenity-softening asterisks — she came within a whisker of winning on Election Day.
How that plays out in court remains to be seen, but the fact remains that if Arizona’s most-populous county had gotten its act together when it came to in-person voting, one guesses she’d have triumphed,
Her future, in other words, is very bright indeed — if, of course, she decides to run for the upper chamber.
As current Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs faces a job ahead battling a Republican-led legislature that’s already digging in in opposition, her former opponent could be busy writing the script for “Mrs. Lake Goes to Washington.”
Let’s all hope for a happy ending.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.