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Auto dealers’ poll shows Ducey increasing lead

Arizona Treasurer and Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey formally announces the beginning of his campaign (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

Arizona Treasurer and Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey formally announces the beginning of his campaign (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

The second in a series of tracking polls commissioned by the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association shows Doug Ducey increasing a previously narrow lead over Scott Smith in the Republican primary for the governor’s race.

The autodial poll of 1,289 likely Republican primary voters, conducted from Aug. 5-7 by Colorado-based Magellan Strategies, showed Ducey with 29 percent of the vote to Smith’s 22 percent. Christine Jones won 13 percent of the vote, with Ken Bennett getting 11 percent, Andrew Thomas 9 percent and Frank Riggs 4 percent. Twelve percent of respondents were undecided.

Ducey has gained significant ground since a similar poll was conducted a week ago. The industry group’s first tracking poll, which covered the four-day period ending on July 31, had Ducey leading Smith by just two points, 23 percent to 21 percent, with Jones still at third place with 13 percent.

The margin of error is +/- 2.73 percentage points.

There are several caveats to the poll. The memo notes that 18 percent of the poll’s respondents were independent voters, which is higher than the projected 12- to -15-percent independent turnout for the Aug. 26 Republican primary.

And Magellan Strategies, which is not a polling firm by trade, previously polled the race for a pro-Ducey independent expenditure group and produced results that were widely questioned by other candidates in the race.

Additionally, while the Automobile Dealers Association hasn’t formally endorsed a candidate in the race, one of its most influential members, Tucson car dealer Jim Click, is a staunch supporter of Ducey and has given $100,000 to an independent expenditure group backing his candidacy. And the polling memo was authored by public relations consultant Jason Rose, another supporter of Ducey’s campaign.

Detailed information about the poll’s methodology, demographics and other data was not made available.

Nonetheless, the poll is good news for Ducey, who currently serves as state treasurer. In the memo, Rose partly attributed Ducey’s jump to recent high-profile endorsements from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, though Palin’s endorsement was not announced until the middle of the three-day polling period.

Rose wrote that Smith’s endorsements from Gov. Jan Brewer, which was made public the same day as the Palin endorsement, had not yet had a visible impact on the race. According to the memo, Ducey bested the former Mesa mayor by 6 percentage points on the last day of polling, after the campaigns had announced the Brewer and Palin endorsements.

“Yesterday, Smith announced the endorsement of Governor Brewer, which could prove helpful, as has seemingly been the case with some of Ducey’s high-profile endorsements. But in last night’s polling alone the impact of Governor Brewer’s endorsement was not yet evident,” Rose wrote.

According to Rose’s memo, voters continued to have an overwhelmingly negative view of Jones, with more than twice as many respondents giving her an unfavorable rating than a favorable one. Jones, a former executive at the web hosting company GoDaddy, was until recently viewed by many as Ducey’s top competitor in the primary. Ducey and independent expenditure groups that are supporting him have hammered Jones with negative ads in recent weeks.

The poll also looked at other statewide Republican primary races.

In the contest for secretary of state, the poll showed Sen. Michele Reagan tied with Rep. Justin Pierce at 27 percent, after showing Reagan leading Pierce by 13 points and leading Mesa businessman Wil Cardon by 12 points last week. Cardon trailed Pierce and Reagan by 11 points in the latest poll.

The polling memo said the increase in Pierce’s numbers came primarily among Republicans, though it did not speculate as to how he could have gained so much ground in a short amount of time. The Free Enterprise Club has reported spending nearly $600,000 supporting Pierce and attacking Cardon and Reagan, though the dynamics of the race do not appear to have changed much in the past week.

The poll also showed little movement in the race between Attorney General Tom Horne and challenger Mark Brnovich. Brnovich, a former state and federal prosecutor and former director of the Arizona Department of Gaming, led Horne 43 to 37 percent in the latest poll. In the previous tracking poll, Brnovich led Horne 42 to 35 percent.

In the state treasurer’s race, former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman took 20 percent to Peoria businessman Jeff DeWit’s 16 percent and former Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen’s 14 percent. Hallman and DeWit were tied at 19 percent in the first poll, with Pullen at 15 percent.

The Automobile Dealers Association will conduct another tracking poll next week.

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