In the first publicly released poll of the U.S. Senate race since Jeff Flake steamrolled his way through the GOP primary, Democratic nominee Richard Carmona is running in a virtual dead heat with the six-term congressman and is outperforming President Barack Obama in Arizona.
According to Politico, a poll released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling, a North Carolina-based Democratic firm, shows Flake with a slim 44 to 43 lead over Carmona, well within the 3.1 percent margin of error. The poll of 993 likely voters, conducted from Sept. 7 to Sept. 9, also showed 13 percent undecided.
The League of Conservation Voters commissioned the poll. The league endorsed Carmona over Flake in August.
The poll shows Carmona, who served as surgeon general under President George W. Bush, outperforming President Barack Obama. In the same poll, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney leads Obama 53 to 44, while respondents said they chose favorite son John McCain over Obama 50 to 44.
That disparity could be critical for Carmona, as Flake, a six-term congressman from Mesa, tries to tie him to Obama. Flake has highlighted Obama’s recruitment of Carmona – he called Carmona personally last year to urge him into the race – and has dubbed his opponent, “Rubberstamp Rich,” arguing he’ll vote in lockstep with the president’s agenda.
Carmona spokesman Andy Barr said the poll only reinforced what he already knew.
“From our perspective, it just confirms kind of what we’ve been saying, which is that Dr. Carmona is uniquely suited to win this race because he’s got independent credentials, because he worked for President Bush as surgeon general, because he’s been a soldier, a cop, a doctor. He appeals to a very broad group, and we see that in polling,” Barr said.
Flake spokesman Andrew Wilder also said the poll was no surprise.
“We always expected this to be a close race, and that’s why Jeff is working hard to earn the trust and votes of Arizonans,” Wilder said.
Republicans made up 44 percent of the poll, compared to 36 percent for Democrats and 21 percent for independents and others.
Some polls have showed Carmona within striking distance of Flake, while others showed Flake with an insurmountable lead. A May poll by Colorado-based Magellan Strategies showed Flake with a 4 percent lead, while the congressman led Carmona by 16 points in a Rasmussen Reports poll in June.