In addition to our Presidential Election Voting Intention results, our latest polls conducted across Arizona, Michigan, and North Carolina last week have found Democratic candidates for Senate and Governor continuing to hold substantial leads in all four down-ballot races, with wider margins than the leads held by Joe Biden over Donald Trump.
In Arizona, the Democratic candidate for the US Senate, Mark Kelly has a considerable 18% lead over incumbent Republican Senator Martha McSally, up from 15% in June. This double-digit lead contrasts quite significantly with Joe Biden’s 8% lead over Donald Trump in Arizona.
McSally first ran for the US Senate in 2018 but was defeated by Democratic candidate Kyrsten Sinema. However, after the death of John McCain followed by the resignation of McCain’s appointed successor Jon Kyl, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey appointed McSally to replace Senator Kyl in January 2019. A former Colonel in the US Air Force, McSally’s main rival is Democrat Mark Kelly, who is a former astronaut and Captain in the US Navy.
Although part of McSally’s unpopularity might stem from Arizona voters disapproving of how she became a US Senator only months after losing an election for a Senate seat, it is also likely that her support is also being affected by the handling of the coronavirus pandemic in Arizona by Republican Governor Doug Ducey. Indeed, our latest poll found that 54% of Arizona respondents disapprove of Ducey’s handling of the pandemic, compared to only 26% who approve.
This latest result represents a significant decline in Ducey’s approval compared to June, when 36% approved and 37% disapproved of his handling of the pandemic. As the number of new cases in Arizona continues to rise rapidly and Ducey’s disapproval correspondingly increases, McSally’s chances of returning to the Senate appear to be in decline.
This decline for Ducey mirrors the Republic Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis’ decline in approval rating from June, when 42% approved and 38% disapproved of his handling of the coronavirus crisis, to 36% now approving and 45% disapproving.
Meanwhile, Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer approval rating has remained high. Whereas in June we found that 58% approve and 25% disapproved of her handling of the crisis in Michigan, her approval now stands at 60% and her disapproval at 27%.
Unlike the incumbent Republican Senator McSally in Arizona, Michigan’s incumbent Democratic Senator Gary Peters continues to hold a significant lead over his Republican rival John James, a US Army veteran and businessman. Our Michigan poll this month found Peters leading James by 17%, slightly down from 18% in June, a difference that falls within the margin of error of the two polls.
Thus, the situation in Michigan appears to be the reverse of Arizona, and our poll suggests a possible connection between how voters perceive the handling of the coronavirus crisis by their State Governor and how they plan to vote in the US Senate election in November. Here, as in Arizona, it is noticeable that Peters’ lead over James’ is higher than Biden’s 12% lead over Trump in Michigan.
In the US Senate race in North Carolina, the incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis currently trails his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham by 11% points. This result sees a slightly wider gap between the two candidates than in June, when Tillis trailed Cunningham, a lawyer, by 9%.
Concurrently, North Carolina’s incumbent Democratic Governor Roy Cooper currently has a 14% lead over his Republican challenger, Dan Forest, who is currently the state’s Lieutenant Governor. Although Cooper’s 14% lead represents a five-point decline from his 19% lead in July, it is nonetheless a significant double-digit lead that is quite different from the narrow 1% lead held by Joe Biden over Donald Trump.
As has been the case with Michigan’s Democratic Governor, voters in North Carolina also approve of how their Democratic Governor has handled the coronavirus pandemic: in July, 50% said they approve of Cooper’s handling of the crisis, compared to 27% who disapprove. These are similar figures to June, when 50% approved and 23% disapproved of his handling of the crisis.
Given the ongoing worsening of the coronavirus situation across the United States, the perception in North Carolina that Governor Cooper handled the situation well is likely helping his own gubernatorial re-election race, and also enabling an 11% lead for the Democratic candidate to the US Senate over his incumbent Republican rival.
Altogether, these various results show that Democratic candidates are attracting a higher level of support than Joe Biden is in his Presidential bid. Respondents to our polls appear to pick candidates from different parties, depending on the specific candidates, suggesting a greater nuance and attention to local issues and politics.