Internal poll: GOP gubernatorial frontrunners in statistical tie

Numbers diverge sharply when respondents are aware of Trump endorsement of Lake

By: - June 6, 2022 4:20 pm
Kari Lake

Kari Lake holds up Donald Trump’s endorsement at an Oct. 2 event in Cave Creek for her gubernatorial campaign. Photo by Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror

Internal Republican polling shows a statistical tie between gubernatorial candidates Kari Lake, the former news anchor, and Karrin Taylor Robson, the former university regent and developer, but those numbers separate greatly when those polled were informed that Donald Trump backs Lake’s candidacy.

The poll, conducted by the Republican-leaning Data Orbital and obtained by the Arizona Mirror, has Lake slipping under 30% for the first time during her campaign. She’s at 27.4% compared to Robson’s 23.3%, with a margin of error at 4.3% qualifying it as a “statistical tie.” It surveyed 550 Republican voters, asking them about statewide races that will be on the ballot for the Aug. 2 primary election as well as what their top issue is to motivate their vote.

Polling should never be taken at face value since voters’ minds can change by Election Day, especially based on what they may learn about candidates throughout the campaign cycle. Politicos usually point out that each survey is always a “point in time” measure and something that happens in June won’t reflect the race in July or August. The findings of this poll are based specifically on if the election was happening right now and not in roughly two months time.

Rounding out the governor’s race was former Congress member Matt Salmon at 12% and the two longshot candidates Scott Neely and Paola “Z” Tulliani-Zen at 3% and less than 1%, respectively.

Interestingly, Salmon is the only major candidate whose polling increased since May, while “undecided” still leads the group at 31.1%.

The poll was conducted between June 1 and 3. May numbers had Lake at 35.5%, Robson at 26.8% and Salmon at 10.1%, with undecided at 23.3%.

But while Salmon’s number may have ticked up, his finances and the gap between the other two candidates still put him at a distant third. He’s also the only one of the three to not have any ads running on television. Both Lake and Robson recently bought air time to get through to more voters.

Robson has made it clear she is willing to spend whatever necessary to win the election, while Lake has not pumped in any of her own money and was left with significantly less in her war chest than Robson at the end of March.

What Lake does have in her favor though is Trump’s endorsement. It is still unclear how that will play into the race but when those Republicans surveyed were told of the former president’s backing, Lake became more of a front runner. Her numbers increased 7 percentage points to 34.5% while Robson’s dipped down to 21.3% and Salmon’s also ticked down to 9.5% while undecided fell to 28.2%.

Those figures coupled with a 76.5% favorability rating for Trump among Republicans could explain why Lake has felt it necessary to remind everybody that she has his support. Her campaign signs mention it and a recent Lake ad campaign featured Trump talking, but barely mentioned the actual gubernatorial candidate. Trump’s unfavorable ranking is at 13.3% with 8.4% neutral.

Trump also recently endorsed Blake Masters, the Peter Thiel-backed venture capitalist, for the U.S. Senate, but this poll might not reflect that endorsement just yet since it took place at the same time the endorsement came down last week.

The Republican primary to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in November is still neck-and-neck among the top three candidates, according to the poll. Masters has 14.5%, which is good for third place. He dropped from his 16.2% share in the May survey. Businessman Jim Lamon led the candidates with 19.5%, an increase of one point from May, and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is at 18.2%, down from 20% in May. Undecided still leads overall at 36.2%, meaning it could be anybody’s race with one month to go before early voting begins.

In the races for secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer and corporation commission, the results show that voters are still very much undecided. Kimberly Yee is the only incumbent running to keep her seat among those races, but only after she dropped out of the governor’s race in January. The power of incumbency does matter in Arizona and polling lists her at 24%, compared to state Rep. Jeff Weninger’s 8.5%. But there is still 60% undecided.

The issues that mattered most to the survey respondents were either border/immigration or the economy, with a combined 75%. No other top issue came anywhere close to those two, but gun control came in third at 5.2%.

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Dillon Rosenblatt
Dillon Rosenblatt

Dillon Rosenblatt is a Phoenix-based political reporter with previous bylines in Arizona Capitol Times and Phoenix New Times. When he’s not getting under the skin of politicians, he’s usually found at local coffee shops or the movie theater. He’s originally from New Jersey and graduated from Arizona State University.