Very early gubernatorial poll has Bennett in lead - East Valley Tribune: Capitol Media Services

Very early gubernatorial poll has Bennett in lead

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Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 9:00 am

It may be that Arizonans know more about who is the secretary of state than the treasurer.

But a new poll Tuesday shows Ken Bennett as the front runner – at least for the time being – in the race among Republicans to be the next governor.

The telephonic survey conducted over a week in late November and early this month found 20 percent of the 245 Republicans questioned said they support the current secretary of state to move up to the top position in state government. Just 8 percent are backing Treasurer Doug Ducey.

But even Jim Lee, president of Susquehanna Polling & Research said no one should read too much into the survey, coming nine months before the GOP primary. And that's not just because the survey of Republicans has a 6.2 percent margin of error and 53 percent say they're currently undecided.

Lee pointed out that Bennett could be hobbled by his decision to run the race with $753,616 in public financing, assuming he gets the necessary $5 donations.

By contrast, Ducey and attorney Christine Jones already have said they intend to raise private dollars. Ducey has experience collecting checks, not only for his own prior race but in the successful effort he led to kill a proposed 2012 initiative to make permanent a 1-cent surcharge on the state sales tax.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who has not decided whether to run, is at 6 percent, with tied Jones at 4 percent with former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas; state Sen. Al Melvin trails at 2 percent.

Lee said that question to 600 people who have voted in prior elections shows both Bennett and Ducey hold small leads – 5 and 3 percent respectively – over Fred DuVal, the only Democrat in the race.

If nothing else, that reflects the GOP voter registration edge over Democrats. But the race easily could be decided by the independents who make up a third of registered voters.

The margin of error for the statewide question is 4 percent.

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