Incumbent Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is underwater badly in his home state, with just 21 percent of Arizona Republicans supporting him for reelection against challenger Dr. Kelli Ward—who gets 47 percent support—per a new poll from JMC Analytics.
The poll, provided to Breitbart News ahead of its public release by JMC Analytics’ John Couvillon, shows Flake in almost irreparable shape ahead of his reelection bid in 2018. That an incumbent U.S. Senator like Flake could be polling as low as 21 percent in his own primary, while a challenger like Ward has pulled 26 points ahead of him at 47 percent, is almost unthinkable with nearly a full year to go until the August 2018 primary. Three percent of the electorate said they would vote for Nicholas Tutora, another candidate, and 29 percent are undecided, when asked which candidate they would vote for between Ward, Flake, and Tutora.
When asked if Flake should be renominated in 2018, an astounding 66 percent said that someone else should represent the Republican Party on the Senate ticket next year while just 22 percent said Flake should be renominated and 13 percent are undecided.
Fifty-six percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate if President Donald Trump endorsed someone in the primary, while 19 percent said they would be less likely, and 25 percent said a Trump endorsement would make no difference.
The survey also asked respondents about Trump’s criticism of Flake as “weak on borders, crime, and a non-factor in the Senate.” It noted that Trump “wants to unseat Senator Flake in the Republican primary,” and asked if that makes voters more or less likely to back Flake in 2018. In response, a solid majority—60 percent—said that Trump’s opposition to Flake’s reelection makes them less likely to support the senator, while only 21 percent said it makes them more likely to back Flake, and 19 percent said it makes no difference.
Trump, of course, has viciously criticized Flake and praised Ward via Twitter:
Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He's toxic!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
And he ripped Flake during a rally in Phoenix last week–as well as ripping Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)–without naming them from the stage. But the next morning he tweeted more criticisms of Flake:
Phoenix crowd last night was amazing – a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2017
A whopping 76 percent of respondents in the JMC Analytics poll approve of President Trump’s job performance, while just 21 percent disapprove and six percent have no opinion.
The survey of 500 Arizona GOP respondents was conducted from Aug. 26 to Aug. 27, with a margin of error of 4.4 percent and a confidence interval of 95 percent.
In his analysis of the polling data, Couvillon detailed how big of a deal it is that Flake is underwater in polling:
Next year’s Senate race already has the potential to be competitive, given that (1) Senator Flake won his first term in 2012 with a 49-46% plurality (running behind Mitt Romney’s 54%), and (2) in last year’s Presidential election, Arizona moved perceptibly towards the Democrats, as Donald Trump only carried the state 49-45% (In 2012, Mitt Romney carried the state 54-45%). But while the general election will be a challenge (Arizona is one of two Republican held Senate seats that Democrats could put in play next November), Senator Flake has a more immediate problem: he faces a substantial primary challenge as well. On the primary ballot test, Kelli Ward has a 47-21% lead over Flake (with wide leads over the incumbent among virtually every demographically significant group), despite Flake’s having nearly two decades of Congressional experience. And Flake also faces underwater approval ratings (his unfavorability rating is 67-22%, while Ward’s approval is 43-23% positive) nearly identical to the overwhelming negative opinion Arizona Republican primary voters have of him: by a 66-22% margin, they would prefer someone else over the incumbent in the primary.
Couvillon continued by noting how big of a deal Trump involvement may play in the race:
President Trump is still fairly popular (76-21% approval among Republican likely primary voters), and that popularity also translates to the value of a Trump endorsement in this contest: respondents by a 56-19% margin would be more likely to support President Trump’s endorsed candidate. That sentiment is especially potent when President Trump makes an incumbent (in this case, Senator Flake) the subject of his ire, such as his August 17 tweet dismissing Sen. Flake as “toxic” and a “non-factor” in the U.S. Senate. JMC tested the impact of that message, and on the basis of that tweet, respondents would by a 60-21% margin be less likely to support Flake (those more likely to support Flake already support him 76-5% on the ballot test, while those less likely to support Flake support Ward 68-5%). In summary, Senator Flake faces a substantial primary challenge from Kelli Ward, and this race could determine partisan control of the U.S. Senate.
Ward appeared on Breitbart News Sunday on Sunday evening on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel to highlight her challenge against Flake.
“There are so many reasons” that Flake is tanking in the polls, Ward said on the show. “His popularity wasn’t even very high before he started on this anti-Trump tirade that he has been on. You know he has been a Never Trumper forever. He was a Never Trumper during the primary. He said that Donald Trump was not his 14th choice to be our nominee. After Donald Trump fought his way through that field of contenders in that primary process, he still said that Donald Trump should get out and that America deserves better. That’s what he was featured in Hillary Clinton’s campaign commercial about. And since Donald Trump’s been in the White House he has been a huge thorn in his side. He came out with his book, his ‘manifesto’ to conservatives, basically putting us down and belittling us because we just don’t know what is happening in Washington, D.C., and in the world, and he needs to tell us and he needs to pat us on the head and tell us what conservatism is all about, forgetting that the election of 2016 was a mandate here in our country for people who want what Donald Trump told us he was going to give us: the secure border, stop illegal immigration, repeal Obamacare, fix the tax code, grow the economy, make sure the military is the strongest military in the world. Those are the things that people want, and those are the things that Jeff Flake as well as other people that dwell in the swamp are standing in the way of.”
The JMC Analytics survey is hardly the only one showing such a dire situation for Flake in Arizona. A HighGround Public Affairs survey conducted from Aug. 18 to Aug. 19 of 273 “high efficacy Republican and PND/Independent voters” with a margin of error of 5.93 percent found that Ward was leading Flake by 14 points. She was at approximately 42 percent in that survey, while Flake was down at around 28 percent. It seems it has only gotten worse for Flake since then.
LISTEN TO DR. KELLI WARD ON BREITBART NEWS SUNDAY: