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Poll: Lewis, Pearce neck-and-neck in recall contest

Mesa Republican Jerry Lewis (left) and Senate President Russell Pearce (Photos by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

With only a few days left until voters head to the ballot box to decide the fate of Senate President Russell Pearce, a poll commissioned by the Arizona Capitol Times and ABC15 News shows the race is a dead heat.

Mesa Republican Jerry Lewis, who is seeking to unseat Pearce in the Nov. 8 recall election, is holding his own among fellow GOP voters, despite being heavily outspent by Pearce and his national fundraising prowess.

Lewis holds a 46 percent to 43 percent lead over Pearce in the historic recall contest, but the edge is within the poll’s margin of error.

“Statistically here, what we’ve got is a dead heat,” said Jeremy Moreland, a Valley pollster who conducted the survey. “Both Lewis and Pearce are within the margin of error of one another.”


The bottom line, Moreland said, is the poll doesn’t reveal a significant edge in support for either Lewis or Pearce by age, gender or religious affiliation.

The poll of 598 likely voters in Mesa’s District 18 shows that the Mormon community is deeply divided over the contest.

Lewis holds a slight lead among those who described themselves as Mormons, 47.5 percent to 45 percent.

Among the respondents, 160 considered themselves members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while the rest did not.

Interestingly, Republican Olivia Cortes, who dropped out of the race amid accusations that she was a “sham” candidate, is pulling some votes, although support for her is small — a mere 2.5 percent. Cortes’ name will still appear on the ballot.

By Gender

The poll specifically stated that Cortes is no longer a candidate, so those who said they support her may be the result of user error or may be trying to skew the poll, Moreland said.

But depending on how tight the race is, any vote that goes to Cortes could still have some impact.

According to the poll, the number of the undecided stood at 8.5 percent, a fairly small number.

In short, the battle for the Legislative District 18 Senate seat has tightened up. This means the race’s outcome largely depends on whose campaign can bring out its supporters to the polls, and last-minute campaigning over the next few days could make a difference.

Those extra efforts could include hitting the campaign trail, knocking on doors alongside a high-profile endorser, and more importantly, ensuring that supporters mail their ballots or drop by polling precincts on Election Day.

Both campaigns have said they plan to work west Mesa neighborhoods this weekend to secure undecided votes.

As expected, Pearce holds the financial edge. He raised an eye-popping $230,000 – including donations from more than 40 states – compared to Lewis’ $69,000, their latest campaign finance reports showed.

By all indications, Pearce is running a well-oiled campaign and has recently gone on the offensive, hitting Lewis with negative TV ads and mailers.

The incumbent’s latest TV ad, for example, sought to directly tie Lewis to “labor unions” and “left-wing groups.”

The ad says Lewis and his “liberal friends” already spent more than $200,000 to remove Pearce from office.

Pearce’s TV ad, however, listed Democratic and labor groups that funded independent committees that have spent for Lewis, but are not connected to his campaign.

Lewis’ campaign shot back at Pearce in recent weeks over allegations that Lewis “stole” from homeless kids. Lewis’ campaign called the attack “spurious” and said Pearce is morally unmoored.

Lewis mostly touted his credentials as a candidate, but he took a shot at Pearce in a recent video when he said he wouldn’t call people names if they disagree with him. Lewis also said he would support a gift ban, pledging he “won’t have access to events, tickets, and special privileges that you and your family don’t have.”

The swipe was a not-so-veiled reference to Pearce’s involvement in accepting Fiesta Bowl tickets and trips to promote the bowl.

•   •   •

The autodial poll was conducted on Nov. 1 among 598 likely voters.

Roughly 66 percent were Republicans, about 24 percent were Democrats, and 5.4 percent were independents.

The margin of error is plus or minus 3.95 percent.

There’s a good chance some of those who were polled already mailed their early ballots.

The poll’s key question mirrored the recall election’s actual ballot. It stated that a group called Citizens for a Better Arizona submitted the recall petition and briefly described its reasons. It also provided a summary of Pearce’s defenses.

It told respondents that there are three candidates on the ballot, though it stated that Cortes had officially dropped out of the race.

It then asked respondents the standard question: Who would they vote for if the election were held today?

The poll confirmed some assumptions and yielded a few surprises.

Republican split

The first is that Lewis is holding his own among Republican voters.

The party is virtually split down the middle: Lewis got 45.6 percent compared to Pearce’s 45.3 percent.

As expected, Pearce lags behind when it came to Democratic voters, who heavily favored Lewis, 51 percent to 36.4 percent.

The poll also broke down the numbers by gender and age, and it showed that female voters slightly favor Lewis, 47.7 percent to 41.1 percent. Male voters, on the other hand, are evenly split.

Lewis also polled better among voters who are at least 65, though Pearce did slightly better among those who are 65 and below.

In addition to Lewis holding a slight lead among those who described themselves as Mormons, support for the challenger among non-Mormons also was slightly stronger – at 47.6 percent to Pearce’s 44.7 percent.

But Moreland cautioned against reading too much into these variables.

“The unique nature of the special election brings it down to who shows up to vote,” he said.


  1. Oh, please! Lewis flyers, signs, signatures were paid for by the shadow PAC “Campaign Money Watch”- the $200,000 that the Pearce ad mentioned. CMW is funded by its sister organization, Public Campaign Action Fund. PCAF is the BIG money group that is mentioned in the book, Blueprint-how Unions and other leftists took over Colorado and now Arizona is on their hit list. PVAF is funded by Move.On org (spread feces over your body, Occupy Protestors, NEA teachers union, SEIU (75 page Violence Manual), and the Tides Foundation (Soros group). Sure Lewis has a small fund (he has only used half of it-when he has the thousands from other states doing the work for him.

    Also noticed that the AZ Capital Times reporter only mentioned the lawsuit against Lewis regarding the theft from Homeless Donations. How about Lewis being fired from his CPA job-Lewis even mentioned this at the recent LD 18 meeting. Then search the AZ Central for all the articles about Lewis losing his first school job after frauding the state $1.9 million by over-reporting 400 students. It’s all public records (Sequoia/ Joy Christians).

    Won’t make a difference anyway. Lewis’ Dem supporters have gerrymandered the new map so next year Lewis would have to run against ASU’s Schapira, the Senate Minority (Dem) Leader. The map just takes in Lewis’ house so Lewis will be in the ASU corridor with 85K students and 50K staff-who will vote for Schipara.100%. The Dems used Lewis for the recall and then throw him on the progressive garbage heap next year. Thise that lie with dogs. get fleas.

    The article has a liberal biase for failing to report all the facts so who can trust the poll results. Maybe this will get conservative off their sofas to vote rather than allow AZ to be the next TakeOver after Colorado. It’s time to take our Country and State back.

  2. As expected, the Republican party has been split about Lewis and Pierce for a while now.
    And it was obvious the Dem libtards would favor Lewis over any other.

    Whatever, I stopped favoring Pierce after I found out about his connections with Neo-Nazi groups anyway.

  3. We can only hope that sanity prevails in LD 18 on Tuesday an we see the Emporeror with no clothes sent home jobless as well. Adios Russell.

  4. This is going to happen! Maybe once Lewis is elected we can actually get some stuff done in LD18…

    WeThePeople2012 – your hate rhetoric is exhausting. It is everyone’s fault but Pearce who totally ostracized a large portion of his electorate (just look at the 45 45 split of republican in the poll).

    Sorry but Pearce has to go…

  5. The fact that Cortes may impact the outcome of this election should upset anyone that believes in democracy.

    I don’t think it’s right that voters have to live with the outcome of an election process that has been tampered with. Those responsible for violating election laws should go to jail and the candidate they support should have to stand for another election.

    Otherwise, where’s the deterent to breaking any law to get someone elected. Once elected, that’s it, the voters have to live with it no matter how much lying, cheating, stealing was done in the process.

  6. Hey WethePeople2012 (which, by the way, you aren’t): Is that the nom de plume for low-life Chad Willems? Why don’t you talk about how Pearce has constantly railed (like you) about “outsiders” in Lewis’ campaign when nearly all of Pearce’s money has been raised from out-of-state special interests and extremist groups? You also might want to invest in spelling and grammar lessons. It’s time to take our state/country back for surt…from the right-wing extremists and Tea Party hypocrites like you and your narcissistic, bully boy Pearce (a Joke Arpaio wannabe).

  7. Hey WethePeople2012 (which, by the way, you aren’t): Is that the nom de plume for low-life Chad Willems? Why don’t you talk about how Pearce has constantly railed (like you) about “outsiders” in Lewis’ campaign when nearly all of Pearce’s money has been raised from out-of-state special interests and extremist groups? You also might want to invest in spelling and grammar lessons. It’s time to take our state/country back for sure…from the right-wing extremists and Tea Party hypocrites like you and your narcissistic, bully boy Pearce (a Joke Arpaio wannabe).

  8. We The People,
    You need to go back to school and be tutored on English, Writing and Arithmatic and especially history and US constitution. You are an embarrasment to Arizonans.

  9. Really? Time to take our Country and State back? From whom? Considering the “tea party” already holds most of us hostage, even though only about a third of Arizonans are registered Republicans. Take the tea bag out of the cup, it’s overdone. Let’s get some genuine competition, listen to both sides, and stop listening to outside money–on either side.

  10. In actuality the voter registration in the district breaks down Republicans 38%, Independents 34% and Democrats 26 – the Republican vote sample was way high (66%) and the Independent vote sample was way low (5.4%). Given that fact, I may have to even bump up my predictions to BLOW OUT!

    Also the fact that Republicans were splitting almost even for Pearce and Lewis…..not at all good.

    Mike Triggs, former Executive Director of the Minnesota Republican Party

  11. I am amazed that people are still making claims that Lewis is getting all of these funds from outside the district. Have you not been reading the paper in the last several weeks? The overwhelming majority of his campaign funds have come from small donations WITHIN the district, while Pearce’s funds have come from mostly outside the district. Regardless of your opinions on the race, how can you continue making such claims that have been proven inaccurate. I hope Pearce is shown the door. The man’s behavior shows he is not worthy of holding public office.

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