The latest SurveyUSA poll (whose methodologies I find to be somewhat low quality) has released the latest in a series of polls on the Pederson/Kyl race. The poll shows Kyl at 52% and Pederson at 40% with the balance undecided.
What is most important about this poll is the trend line in the race that early polling established and this poll confirms: Pederson is progressively closing the gap. In the two previous polls SurveyUSA conducted Kyl led by 24% in February, and 15% in May. Today Pederson closed the gap still further to 12%, and has recently been polled within 7% of Kyl; which tends to indicate that this poll’s margin of error (+/- 4.3%) is probably working to Kyl’s favor.
Pederson is continuing to eat into Kyl’s incumbent advantage. The big question is whether Pederson will be separate Kyl’s remaining Democrats (yes, there is still about 18% clinging to Kyl according to the poll) and some more of his Independents (Kyl is actually polling higher among independents at 49% to 39%) from their alliegence to Kyl. Bearing out the nostrum that Independents are mainly conservative in Arizona, Pederson leads by wide margins among self-described moderates. But to win, Pederson is going to have to pull a supermajority of those moderates to his side.
A major problem that Pederson is facing lies in Tucson. Kyl still leads by 47% to 44% among Tucsonans sampled. Pederson must win heavily in Pima County to carry the state, just as Janet did in 2002. Right now, the numbers aren’t there. He should be in the lead here and that he’s not may reflect the fact that he has not been in Tucson very often and has failed to have a large impact here with free press coverage. It could also be a problem with the poll’s definition of ‘Tucson’ for the sample (how much of the surrounding communities are included in Tucson, and how much are ‘other Arizona’?), but I doubt that.
I think support for Kyl among non-GOP voters is weak and is largely based on ignorance of his ideology and record, so much of that soft support can be stripped away when the general election’s air war begins, but Pederson would do well to get to some non-fundraising appearances here in Tucson where large numbers of people can see and hear him, and where he can get some free media so that Southern Arizona knows him better.