Mark Kelly and Martha McSally statistically tied for U.S. Senate race, Kelly low name recognition, McSally weak ‘likability’ factor


Ron Cogswell

U.S. Senate building

Jesse Tannous, Reporter

Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) is tied with her Democratic challenger, retired astronaut, Mark Kelly (D) according to a Phoenix-based pollster, OH Predictive Insights.

The poll was conducted on May 1 and shows McSally with 45% of the vote compared with 44% for Kelly. The poll carried a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Gage Skidmore (Flickr)
Sen. Martha McSally

Kelly, the husband of former Arizona Representative, Gabriella Giffords (D), raised more than $4 million in his first weeks as a candidate according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. McSally raised $2.1 million in the first quarter according to reports.

This is Kelly’s first run for public office, and less than a third, 38% (according to the poll) have no opinion of the likely Democratic nominee—even though 42% see him favorably, and 20% view him unfavorably.

Kelly campaign will likely work on elevating name recognition.

Gage Skidmore (Flickr)
Mark Kelly (D) speaking on his campaign

In contrast to McSally, her name recognition is high when voters after the 2018 race against Kyrsten Sinema became very aware of McSally through one of the most contentious political ad campaigns in recent Arizona history—only 9% of those polled had no opinion of McSally. But the opinion of McSally is not necessarily seen as favorable when only 45% of voters say they would vote for her.

The likability factor will be a challenge for McSally.

Still, the race between Kelly and McSally for the seat of the late Senator John McCain that was temporarily filled by McSally after Gov. Doug Ducey appointed her, is lining up to be an even closer race than that of McSally and Sinema last year.