Arizona is another battleground where strong opposing forces support the race.

Democratic candidates enjoy higher personal approval ratings, while Republican voters think more about national control of the Senate. Having a tough economy and a desire for tighter border controls helps Republicans, compared to abortion helping Democrats.

And in this state that was so close in 2020, the denial of the election finds no support except for a handful of those in the Republican base — and voters don’t want that to be the focus of the campaign.

What works in Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly’s favor is the approval of most of his work and the fact that he is personally liked. In fact, he is personally the most liked of the state’s four vetted candidates for Senate and governor. In contrast, more than six in 10 dislike the way Blake Masters conducts himself in person.

In addition, Kelly is supported by those who want abortion to be legal — which is what most voters do.

However, while abortion is important to Democrats, it does not rank as highly among voters as compared to the economy, inflation or immigration. And Democrats face deficits on these counts.

The economy and immigration take center stage, and voters feel negatively about the economy — both in Arizona and the nation. That’s helping Republican candidates: They’re winning over voters who say these issues are top of mind.


Two key issues driving the Senate race: abortion and immigration

Like Democratic candidates elsewhere, Kelly enjoys a big advantage among voters who believe abortion is important, but that advantage is somewhat offset by voters who emphasize immigration.

Immigration ranks third in the state as “very important” (higher than nationally), just behind the economy and inflation. And among voters who say immigration is very important, Masters is in the lead, helping to keep the race close.



Kelly enjoys a crossover vote from Republicans, with about one in 10 supporting him, similar to the level he won in 2020. In that case, he’s more likely to get the support of Republicans who believe abortion should be legal than those who don’t.

Abortion: Most want it legal, against criminalization

After the judge’s ruling to restore the law, which bans virtually all abortions in the statemost voters would like abortion legal in all or most cases in Arizona – and most voters don’t criminalize it.

Women are more likely than men to say that illegal abortions should not result in criminal liability for the women who had the procedure, the doctors and medical staff, or those who helped the woman pay for or obtain the abortion.


There is some disagreement among Republicans on this point. About half would not punish a woman for having an abortion, even as many oppose the procedure, but the majority would support the criminal liability of a doctor for performing an abortion.

However, a majority of self-identified “MAGA” Republicans, 57%, would criminalize a woman who obtains an abortion, with even greater support for punishing doctors and health care providers and anyone who paid for them.


Voters who want abortion legalized are more likely than those who don’t to see it as a ballot issue, and those voters support Kelly over Masters. As we’ve seen elsewhere, abortion is also a top issue for Democratic voters here in Arizona.

A majority of Arizona voters believe Kelly will support policies to protect access to abortion, while a majority believe Masters will support policies to restrict them.


There is a clear gender gap. Kelly has a big lead among the women, while Masters has a double-digit lead among the men. Kelly also leads among young voters and Hispanic voters. Masters is ahead with older voters, white voters and evangelicals.



Immigration: Close to Home and Changing Homes; voters want tougher border protection

When asked directly about border security, more voters think Masters would support policies that make the border more secure than say Kelly.


Just over half of Arizona voters say immigration has changed the area where they live at least somewhat in recent years, and a large majority of those who say so say it has changed for the worse.


Voters who think so place a high value on immigration. Nine in 10 of them say it is very important to their vote in 2022, and they strongly support Republican candidates in both the Senate and gubernatorial races.

Overall, however, most Arizona voters believe that most of those who try to cross the border are motivated by the search for work and a better life. But at the same time, they would like the US to be tougher on those trying to cross the border. This is due to Republicans who overwhelmingly think so, and a smaller majority of independents. More Hispanic voters also want the U.S. to be tougher, rather than easier, on those trying to cross the border.


As in other battleground states and nationally, the economy and inflation are top issues for voters in Arizona, with Republican candidates leading among voters who view these issues as very important.


Like most midterm elections, this one is, at least in part, a referendum on the current president. More Arizona voters say their Senate votes are against President Joe Biden than support him. His rating here among registered voters is 39%, which is lower than his the latest national number.

Election Denial: Not of paramount importance, but still holds power among the Republican Party

Outright denial of the election does not resonate much with Arizona voters: Fewer than one in five Arizona voters want their elected officials to say that Mr. Biden is not the legitimate winner of the 2020 contest.

However, many do not care. What’s more, the 2020 election isn’t the top issue they want candidates to talk about — it pales in comparison to the economy and immigration, among other topics.

Still, it could still have a bit of an impact on the race in terms of what the GOP candidates are talking about — at least to distract from other issues.

For example, independent candidates who say they’ve heard Blake Masters talk about the 2020 election are less likely to vote for him than those who say they’ve heard him talk about the economy. And they’re more likely to call it “extreme” than “mainstream.”

And the election denial could still be a key test for some in the GOP base.

For Republicans for whom an official’s position matters, denial still attracts more than acceptance: By a 4-to-1 margin, they prefer officials who said Biden didn’t win legitimately over those who said he did.



Looking ahead, the vast majority of Arizonans want their governor to accept the results of the upcoming election, regardless of which party wins.

Still, three in 10 Republicans say the next governor should challenge and investigate the election if Democrats win — and they overwhelmingly support GOP gubernatorial candidate Cary Lake.

The gubernatorial race

While the Democratic nominee has a narrow three-point lead in the Senate race, the Arizona governor’s race is tied between Democrat Kathy Hobbs and Lake.


Lake, who has no additional hurdles to challenge an incumbent, is generally more popular than her Republican counterpart, who is running for Senate. Lake trails Hobbs by nine points among registered Arizona voters on how she handles herself personally, but that’s far better than Masters’ 20-point deficit against Kelly on that measure.


When asked whether each of the four candidates’ positions are “mainstream” or “extreme,” Lake is viewed as extreme by slightly fewer Arizona voters than Blake Masters, although both are more likely to be viewed as extreme than their opponents- Democrats.


Here again, we see the familiar Democratic preference on abortion as very important, while voters most concerned about immigration and the economy favor the Republican candidate.

Lake’s stiffer competition compared to Masters is partly explained by subtle differences, such as a slightly smaller gender gap, slightly less churn from her own party, and those comparatively better favorability ratings.

This CBS News/YouGov Battleground Tracker poll was conducted with a representative sample of 1,164 registered Arizona voters surveyed between September 30 and October 4, 2022. The sample was weighted by gender, age, race, education and geographic region. Research the current US Census and the 2020 presidential election. Error ±3.8 points.

Upper lines