A major upset could be brewing in Arizona, with an update of the Senate race showing that Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has now pulled into a slight lead as ballots continue to come in — and a good chance to grow her lead as the counting continues.
On Election Night, it looked as if Republicans had secured a major victory in the open Senate seat in Arizona as Republican Martha McSally ended the night with the lead of nearly 17,000 votes. But the state has continued to count ballots for more than two days, and late on Thursday the state’s election website showed that Kyrsten Sinema was now in the lead by close to 2,000 votes.
The Arizona Senate update could be a welcome one for Democrats, who not only failed to regain control of the upper house of Congress but lost ground to the Republicans. The GOP was able to flip seats in Indiana, North Dakota, and Missouri with Florida Democrat Bill Nelson also in danger of losing his seat as the race is headed to a recount.
Losing Arizona would give Republicans greater control and make the possibility of flipping the Senate back to Democrats in 2020 a remote possibility.
As Vox noted, losing the Arizona Senate seat would most likely assure that Republicans continue to hold the Senate until at least 2022.
“In the worst-case scenario for Democrats, a 54-46 Senate, they’d need to flip five seats and hold on to Alabama. A likely path might involve flipping Maine, Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa, and Arizona, in a year that’s not likely to be as Democratic-leaning as 2018. And that’s assuming that Jones holds on in Alabama, as do New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen, Virginia’s Mark Warner, and Michigan’s Gary Peters. Some of them are likely to hold on, but Jones at least is likely to fall, and Shaheen and Warner came close in 2014. Putting it all together, a Democratic flip sounds unlikely.”
If Sinema is able to win the race, it would be seen as something of an upset. Though the two were deadlocked in polls, Arizona had been seen as a comfortably red state.
While the latest Arizona Senate update may give some hope to Kyrsten Sinema and Democrats, the recount is far from over and the razor-thin margin means the race could still swing back to McSally as new ballots come in. Reports indicate that there are close to 400,000 votes still to be counted, so the race is expected to remain deadlocked.
But some experts believe Kyrsten Sinema could still have an edge in the Arizona Senate race, as many of the remaining votes come from Maricopa County in districts that lean heavily Democratic.