Democratic candidate for Senate in Arizona, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, raised almost $500,00 more than his opponent, Republican Jeff Flake in the quarter ending September 30. Plus, in several polls it appears that Carmona is leading Flake, at least before a negative anti-woman ad that Flake ran last week.
Polling varies, but several show Carmona ahead of Flake. The DSCC’s poll shows Carmona ahead 47% to Flake’s 43% and Public Policy Polling shows Carmona leading 45% to 43%. One poll, by YouGov, shows Flake ahead 44% to 38% and then predictably Flake’s campaign released a poll with him ahead, 49% to 43%.
But the latest chatter about the campaign was related to an ad from Flake that attempts to shatter Carmona’s moral character, particularly as it pertains to the treatment of women. Although the ad is somewhat melodramatic, and the events depicted therein are in dispute, the Carmona campaign released its own retort ad with a woman attesting to the candidate’s character.
The Wall Street Journal implied that Flake pushed the ad in a desperate move to regain ground in a race that he previously led by double-digits. Although polls dispute the actual figures, the numbers show the candidates are now neck-in-neck. The piece also pointed out that, facing declining popularity, Flake has begun to waver on some of his previous more conservative stances.
Now that two of three debates between the candidates have taken place, it’s not exactly clear what effect either campaign has seen based on debate performance. The debates have served to bring the race to the forefront — Monday’s debate took place less than week after early voting started — but more than anything they have allowed candidates to elaborate on their stances.
The fact that Carmona is a Latino candidate is interesting in this race, although he is a Puerto Rican from New York and the majority of Latinos in Arizona are Mexican American. Ultimately, though, as we’ve previously reported, Latinos don’t vote based on race or ethnicity.
Rather, Latinos vote for candidates based on whether they have policy positions in keeping with their beliefs.
We previously interviewed Professor Luis Fraga, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement at the University of Washington and a political scientist who studies Latino voting behavior who noted, “Studies show that Latino voters are much more interested in supporting a candidate who has policy positions similar to their own than they do supporting a co-ethnic or a candidate who speaks Spanish.”
One thing that may benefit Carmona related to Latino voters is the fact that there’s a huge anti-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio push in the state this election. Latino voters and organizers across the state have been investing heavily in booting him from office, and the “show me your papers” law SB 1070 spurred activists to get organized, creating new Latino grassroots infrastructure in the state.
Whether this infrastructure will result in get out the vote activity significant enough to affect the election is not certain, but Maricopa county houses 60% of Arizona’s population — and one third of those residents are Latinos, who tend to vote for Democrats.