Talking Points

Kyrsten Sinema's poll numbers should terrify her

The left-leaning group Data For Progress on Thursday released genuinely brutal poll numbers for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), whose very public role in holding up President Biden's agenda is clearly not wearing well with her state's primary electorate. 

The survey of likely voters for her 2024 Democratic Senate primary showed just 25 percent approval for Sinema's performance in office, as opposed to 85 percent for Arizona's other Democratic senator, Mark Kelly, and President Biden himself. Tellingly, she trailed all four of her hypothetical primary opponents by 29 points or more. 

The brewing revolt of the Arizona Democratic electorate should terrify Sinema — assuming that she has any interest in being re-elected as a member of the Democratic Party. Unlike her partner in obstruction, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Sinema is not the only Democrat who could plausibly be elected to statewide office in her state. And her troubles suggest that the stalwart Democrats who vote in primary elections are yearning for the kind of party discipline former President Donald Trump imposed on wavering Republicans. 

Sinema's dreadful numbers, in fact, look a lot like those of former Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake in the 2018 election cycle. One of the most prominent Trump critics in the Senate both before and after Trump's election, Flake trailed ultraconservative Republican Kelli Ward by 27 points in a hypothetical primary, and boasted the exact same 25 percent approval number among likely GOP primary voters (albeit much closer to Election Day than Sinema is now). Seeing the writing on the wall, Flake chose to retire rather than face a near-certain primary drubbing.

Unlike Flake, a frequent recipient of Trump's juvenile invective, Sinema has barely received any public criticism from Biden, suggesting Arizona Democrats resent her largely for opposing popular policies like paid family leave and expanded Medicare benefits. And unless she relents and helps craft a social spending bill acceptable to all factions of her party, she's likely to follow Flake's path to political oblivion.