Sinema Lands In Washington, A Day After Mcsally Concedes Senate Race

By Daniel Perle and Brendan Campbell

WASHINGTON – Arizona Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema was already in Washington Tuesday, just one day after Republican Martha McSally conceded in the one of the narrowest, most closely watched races in the country.

With more than 2.2 million ballots counted as of Tuesday evening, Sinema had a 38,295-vote lead, a 1.72 percentage point margin that made her not only the first woman elected to the Senate from Arizona, but also the first Democrat to hold the seat since Dennis DeConcini in 1994.

“I think she did it by positioning herself as a centrist, as somebody that would work on both sides, and that’s what I’d like to think I was able to do for my 18 years,” said DeConcini, echoing most experts on the race to replace Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

While Sinema could claim the middle ground early, experts noted that McSally was forced to tack right to survive a bitter primary against two conservative challengers – a move that cost her in the general.

“McSally’s embracing of Trump sealed her GOP victory while it alienated key swing voters, for women and moderate independents, and it ultimately cost her the general election,” said Mike Noble, chief pollster at OH Predictive Insights.

Sinema, he said, “planted her flag right in the middle and she never deviated.”

Leah Askarinam, an analyst for Inside Elections, said McSally’s “strategy was riling up the base and playing to the right, rather than moderates … and it seems like there wasn’t enough of that Trump base to win an election for a Republican statewide.”

“In places like Arizona, it’s clear that playing to the base has its limits,” Askarinam said. “Sinema has spent a lot of her campaign trying to appeal to moderate voters, the center, and she was partially able to do that because she didn’t have a competitive primary.”

Jennifer Duffy, senior editor at the Cook Political Report, called Sinema’s success “the biggest sign we’ve had that the state is moving towards being purple.”

“Democrats have been talking about this, you know, for the past three elections, but this is the sign that it is moving in that direction,” Duffy said, adding that Democrats have “laid a foundation for success in Arizona in 2020.”

Democratic political strategist Rodd McLeod declared the red state of Arizona all but dead.

“I think it has been a purple state for a while, but anybody still wondering about that should seek professional help,” McLeod said.

But another political consultant, Jason Rose, said reports of Arizona’s death as a red state have been greatly exaggerated.

“I think Arizona remains a red state with opportunities for Democrats, just as it’s always been a place with opportunities for Democrats,” Rose said.

He said one factor that needs to be considered is the amount of outside spending on McSally’s behalf that was largely negative, spending that he said “did her a disservice.” McSally is “one impressive American,” he said, but the negative ads left voters with an impression of “smile versus scorn” for the two candidates.

Noble characterized Arizona as an “independent state,” and saw the photo finish between Sinema and McSally as a testament to the performance of both candidates, rather than a seismic shift to the left.

“We had two of probably the best candidates we’ve ever seen go against each other and they both were top recruits in the country on their respective sides of the aisle,” he said.

Noble’s final poll before Election Day showed McSally with a one-point advantage over Sinema, 49 percent to 48 percent.

Strategists and analysts said that, while presidents tend to be a liability for candidates of their own party in midterm contests, the impact was undeniable in this race.

“Donald Trump is going to be an anchor around the neck of Republican candidates moving forward, as he was last Tuesday,” McLeod said.

But Richard Herrera, an Arizona State University political science professor, said it’s hard to point to one single factor in this race. McSally and Sinema were two excellent candidates, he said, with lots of fundraising and no incumbent to unseat.

“You never know, the right candidate, well-funded, anything’s possible,” Herrera said.

Bill Scheel, a partner at Arizona political consulting firm Javelina, said this race and others from last Tuesday showed Democrats may not need to rely on one strategy to win statewide elections in Arizona. He said Sinema’s approach of running toward the middle “is the de facto strategy but I do not believe it is the only strategy.”

“Having folks in those statewide offices now who can start offering an alternative vision on some of these really important issues is going to be good,” Scheel said.


  1. Az and been Cafornicated – can’t go back this is the condition of this state now – I’d like a tax refund – there hasn’t been representation in Arizona for YEARS!

  2. You are spot on with that one. Anyone who has been listening to Sinema’s point of view over the years knows that. That is one thing about this state. There are a lot of transplants from other states that do not know her past history or her interviews.

  3. There is no big explanation it is right out voter fraud. Say what you want but if mericopa county cant get it right every time there is an election this is called fraud. They can act domb but we know the truth. Cheaters will be felt with.

  4. She has nothing to do with Arizona anymore. She will vote the democrat line and do whatever UpChuck Schumer tells her to do. We have no representation in the Senate. Kyle votes one way, Sinema the other. They will cancel each other out every time. Oh well….

  5. At least she know who she is and represents. McCain & Flake did nothing but lie and ruin the AZGOP. McSally lost because she’s a #nevertrumper RINO. Anything McCain wanted he had her backing. The AZGOP picked her and Lea Peterson. I WANT CITIZENS TO PICK CANDIDATES – NO MORE of the McCain machine or Bruce Ash brillance. McSally’s a robotic, self righteous arrogant loser. Lost 2 seats or us. Thanks Martha.

  6. I’d rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than have Sinema as my senator. She’s just another flake…

  7. The so-called negative ads that Martha McSally used were not the reason that she lost to Kyrsten Sinema. How else were we to know that Sinema is really anti-Arizona at heart? McSally lost because she failed to take into account the issues that Arizonans care about — future of water and energy resources, better jobs, and a solution to the losing Affordable Care Act. Sinema is not a moderate, but a typical party-line Democrat who will join the anti-Trump investigation camp.

  8. Sinema lays down on the Senate steps in her pink tutu, raising fist of power: “Resist!” Until an aide tells her “No, Senator Simena you can go right in now! Classified information on the left, fax line to our enemies on the right.”

  9. Sinema is not centrist, she is as left as you can go. People of Arizona have been tricked by her. Just wait and see

  10. Democratic political strategist Rodd McLeod declared the red state of Arizona all but dead. “I think it has been a purple state for a while, but anybody still wondering about that should seek professional help,” McLeod said.

    Well I disagree. Perhaps all liberals should seek professional help.. McLeod can be the first test case since he’s such an expert on mental health issues… snotty and better-than-you, like most liberals I know…

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