The Arizona Senate race is slipping from Republicans

In explaining the rating change, Cook Political Report Senate Editor jessica taylor notes that Kelly Masters has knocked down on fundraising — and that’s translated into a massive advantage in terms of TV ad spend. “Democratic groups and Kelly spent or reserved nearly $65 million during the general election period, compared to nearly $16.2 million for GOP groups and Masters,” she writes. (Taylor adds that Masters’ campaign isn’t running any ads at all this week.)

“In speaking with several Republicans both in-state and watching the entire Senate battlefield, Arizona has moved down its list of fold-over states, with many even seeing Pennsylvania — a rating we pushed back last month, which saw the Democrat However, John Fetterman was under attack from crime ads and constant questions about his health – as staying in the GOP column was more likely than Arizona to win,” concludes Taylor.

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Arizona’s new rating is notable because the race, along with Georgia at the start of the 2022 election cycle, was viewed by many as the most likely Republican opportunity. The state has long been a Republican stronghold, though Democrats had recently made gains with Joe Biden as porter in 2020 and Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s victory in 2018.

But the problems facing Masters — and the Arizona GOP in general — point to how Donald Trump (and Trumpism) has stirred up the party and made it more vulnerable in the general election.

The Masters emerged from a crowded elementary school in August, thanks in no small part to Trump’s support. “Blake knows the ‘crime of the century’ happened, he will uncover it and he will never let it happen again,” Trump said in announcing his election. Masters responded by calling Trump “a great man and a visionary.”
When Masters won the nomination, however, he immediately began resigning — literally — some of his previous positions. Gone from its website was previous language about abortion restrictions. Ditto for his views on vote denial. By way of explanation, Masters’ campaign has said that the candidate himself updates the political section of his website, considering it a “living document” as opposed to a static collection of beliefs.

Masters isn’t the only one struggling to adapt to the varied challenges of the general election. In Pennsylvania, Republican Mehmet Oz has fallen behind Fetterman in the state’s Senate race. And in Ohio, Republican JD Vance finds himself in surprisingly close competition with Democrat Tim Ryan in the race to replace retired GOP Sen. Rob Portman.

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All three Republicans are caught in the horns of the dilemma currently facing the GOP. To win their primary, they had to embrace Trump and the often extreme positions of the Republican base. (All three won the former president’s endorsement.) But now that they are nominated by their party, the same policies are decidedly detrimental to their chances of winning a general election.

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And that awkward dance jeopardizes Republicans’ chances of what once looked almost certain: winning the Senate majority this fall.

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