Political Insider Jennifer Duffy heads to AZ to discuss upcoming midterm election

Arizona has been in the national spotlight the past year with news of Senator Jeff Flake’s decision not to seek reelection and the passing of long-time Senator John McCain. Jennifer Duffy, Senior Editor of The Cook Political Report, is heading to Arizona later this week to discuss the latest national trends, predictions for the most watched races, and what to expect in Arizona. Duffy, who will provide the keynote address during the 2018 Manufacturing Summit and Awards Luncheon on Friday, says the Arizona U.S. Senate matchup between Congresswoman Martha McSally and Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is one of the top races she is watching this cycle.

“I think it’s a pretty tied race and it has the potential to be the closest senate race in the country,” Duffy said. “One of the things that is so unique about this race, besides the fact that you have two women nominees, is how evenly matched they are in a lot of ways. They both have, not similar resumes, but resumes of accomplishment.  They both can raise money, they both have good personal narratives, and that’s sort of rare, that they are so evenly matched.”

Arizona voters cannot avoid TV commercials, radio ads and mail pieces about the senate race. Duffy mentioned it is a leading race for national pundits as well given its importance to the future of the Senate.

In regards to the “blue wave” that has dominated political commentary the past few months, Duffy says there may be a shift before the general due to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.  

“The interesting thing is the Kavanaugh nomination, for the good, the bad, and the ugly, has fired up the Republican base. That enthusiasm gap has closed somewhat. It actually is almost entirely closed. And the question is, can that be maintained? And if this had made democrats even angrier, how much room did they really have to grow?”

Given the current trends, Duffy says the odds are fairly good that the U.S. House will flip to Democrat control in November, but the question is how many seats they can gain.

“The Senate really is a jump ball right now and I think that Kavanaugh is going to be a big deal,” Duffy said. “You already have somebody like Senator Joe Donnelly (R-IN), who represents a state that Trump carried by 19 points, saying that he will vote against Kavanaugh. Ten days ago, I would have told you that was suicide. Now, I’m not so sure. I think it speaks to the power of the woman voter this cycle.” Duffy noted that in some places across the country, white suburban women with college degrees who have voted for Republicans in the past “seem more reticent to do so, now.”

Another race getting a lot of national attention is the battle in the Lonestar State between Congressman Beto O’Rourke and Senator Ted Cruz.

“I’d have to say, Texas is really a fun race to watch only because, the last time I saw a competitive senate race in Texas was in 2004 and it didn’t end up being that competitive,” Duffy said. “This one I think is very real. I think O’Rourke has that ‘hope and change’ thing that Obama had going for him. He gives people a lot of hope.”

Over the weekend, nearly 55,000 people turned out for an O’Rourke rally in Austin featuring Willie Nelson. “Cruz is not the most loveable of senators, but this is going to be the real test of that suburban women voter that I was talking about,” Duffy said.  “If O’Rourke is going to win, I think he is going to need all of those votes. He’s not going to win it strictly on Democrats, Democratic leaning Independents and turning out more Democrats in rural counties. I don’t think that’s how he wins. I think that he wins by stealing lots of suburban votes from Cruz.”

Duffy noted there is a lot of uncertainty these final weeks but in many states, early ballots are hitting mailboxes. “People are voting. Voting in some states has started. The election is on,” said Duffy.  

Jennifer Duffy will provide the keynote address during the 2018 Manufacturing Summit and Awards Luncheon on Friday, October 5th at the Renaissance Hotel in Phoenix. To learn more about the event, click here.

Lorna Romero

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