BREAKING: Data Orbital Updates 2018 Arizona Legislative Ratings
Phoenix, AZ (October 24, 2018)- Data Orbital is excited to continue its tracking of races across all of Arizona’s thirty Legislative Districts by updating its district ratings. Since the launch of the 2018 AZ Legislative Race Tracker, Data Orbital has been following various indicators of each district, including survey research, campaign finance reports, and data from the 2018 Arizona Early Voting Tracker. Taking these factors into consideration, Data Orbital has shifted the ratings of the following districts.
Arizona State Senate
With many political pundits across the state forecasting that the Arizona State Senate could see a shift in party control this cycle, Data Orbital first revisited its ratings for each districts’ senate races.
Spanning the majority of Pinal County and some of Gila County, both rural communities, District 8 incumbent Frank Pratt (R) is being challenged by Sharon Girard (D). As voter registration is at parody between Republicans and Democrats, hovering around 31% of voters, the strong Republican ballot advantage seen in early ballots paired with the majority of these ballots coming from either 4/4 or 0/4 voters causes us to shift this seat to a Likely Republican rating.
In District 15, Heather Carter (R), currently one of the district’s representatives, is facing off against Candidate Kristin Dybvig-Pawelko (D). Looking first at early ballot returns with less than two weeks away from election day, we see that 50.85% of current returns are from Republican voters. The remaining half of ballots are split among Democratic and Independent voters. This margin is highly influential going into November 6th, as 67.02% of registered voters in this district are on the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) and received their ballot on October 10th. The General Election trends are also in line with the primary turnout numbers that showed Republicans heavily outperforming Democrats.
District 18 has incumbent Sean Bowie (D) squaring off against Frank Schmuck (R), a rematch from the 2016 election where Bowie bested Schmuck by 2.88 percentage points. As early ballot returns are showing a shift to a higher Republican turnout in district 18 than in the 2016 election cycle, this race is becoming tighter. In addition to what appears to be a turnout shift, Schmuck has about a $30,000 advantage in total funds raised and a little over $50,000 cash on hand advantage based off the latest campaign finance reports. We are also seeing positive polling numbers for Schmuck, who was consistently down in 2016. We believe this race is now a true toss-up.
Appointed to fill the District 21 State Senate seat vacated by now-Congresswoman Lesko (R-AZ08), Rick Gray (R) faces Kathy Knecht (I), one of two Independent candidates running for the State Legislature. Comparing current early ballot returns to both the 2016 election cycle and the special election held for former Representative Trent Franks’ seat, the Republican ballot advantage has not only increased with current returns but also with ballot requests. Looking specifically at Independents in the district, 33.2% voted in the Republican primary and 20.4% in the Democratic primary. We also consider strong Republican primary turnout and recent surveys shifting in Senator Gray’s favor. Based on these factors, we believe this race now deserves a Leans Republican rating.
The State Senate race in District 28 matches up incumbent Kate Brophy-McGee (R) and Christine Porter Marsh (D), in what is shaping up to be one of the highest dollar races for the Arizona Legislature. Having raised $418,593, Brophy-McGee has out-raised her opponent by $231,755 and currently has more than twice her opponent’s cash on hand. With close to 20,000 early ballots already returned, there is a 12.96 percentage point advantage for Republican ballots, with 20.75% of ballots coming from registered Independents. We also know that Senator Brophy-McGee has historically been the beneficiary of crossover Democratic voters and enjoys popularity with Independents. This race was once a prime pick-up opportunity for Democrats, but Brophy-McGee has run a strong campaign and has the edge. We now rate this race as Leans Republican.
Arizona State House of Representatives
With each district being apportioned two seats in the Arizona House of Representatives, Data Orbital took into consideration a multitude of leading indicators paired with in-depth analysis of historical electoral data to shift the following House Seats:
Incumbent State Representative John Allen (R) and current State Senator Nancy Barto (R) face Jennifer Samuels (D) and Julie Gunngile (D) for the two seats in District 15. The Democratic Primary winner in 2016, Brandon Dwyer, garnered 24.36% of total votes against then-incumbents John Allen and Heather Carter (R), who received 35.04% and 40.31% of the vote, respectively. With 42.08% of voters in the district registered as Republicans, early ballot returns showing Republican ballots with a 50.85% share reflect a lack of Democratic voter turnout in this district.
Incumbents Tony Rivero (R) and Kevin Payne (R) are facing challengers Gilbert Romero (D) and Bradley Hughes (D). Despite a 14% increase in Democratic voter turnout in the August 28th Primary, the Democratic challengers face a 10 percentage point voter registration disadvantage and a district that encompasses the deep red Sun City development. In 2016, straight-shot candidate Deanna Rasmussen-Lacotta (D) received 27.94% of all votes. With two Democratic candidates on the ballot this cycle, they will be splitting the current 26.51% share of early ballots.
Be sure to get ready for Election Day in Arizona with Data Orbital’s Arizona Early Voting Tracker and stay tuned for the continuation of the release of survey research on key races.
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