I keep telling myself that there’s no chance she’ll switch parties. She voted twice to convict Trump. She came around on Build Back Better, albeit after Dems met her “no new taxes” demand. She even supports their voting-rights legislation. She just doesn’t support nuking the filibuster to get it through.
She’s not right-wing. She’s a nonstarter in a Republican primary, especially one conducted by a state party teeming with cranks like the Arizona GOP.
She’s not even a fit for the party culturally. There aren’t a lot of non-religious bisexuals holding high office as Republicans (or as Democrats!), after all.
But I don’t know, man. At some point the numbers just are what they are.
That’s from the lefty outfit Data for Progress but I have no reason to think their polling is wildly skewed due to ideological reasons. The same survey finds Sinema’s job approval at 66/26 among Arizona Republicans versus 20/76(!!!) among her own party. And on the specific question of whether they believe Sinema works more for people like them or more for special interests, Republicans split 58/25 while Democrats divide 12/81.
If that’s not enough of a clue as to the magnitude of the electoral challenge she’s facing, DFP confirmed that she’d get annihilated if her primary was held today:
Only 16% of likely Arizona Democratic primary voters say they would vote for Senator Kyrsten Sinema in a theoretical head-to-head primary with Congressman Ruben Gallego.
— Data for Progress (@DataProgress) January 27, 2022
To put that in context, Liz Cheney trailed her Trump-backed Republican opponent 38/18 in a December poll of Wyoming. Sinema is an ever surer loser in an intraparty contest at this point than MAGA’s bete noire is, in other words, even with the former president foursquare behind getting rid of Cheney.
Granted, Cheney and Sinema are in different positions in terms of timing. Cheney will face voters in a matter of months whereas Sinema has two years to atone for her sins to the left, and will almost certainly start by supporting Biden’s new SCOTUS nominee. That’ll remind Democrats that they’re still much better off having her in the Senate than Martha McSally. But the left’s resentment of Sinema is deep and their memories will be long, believing that they have a progressive candidate in Arizona in Ruben Gallego who’s fully capable of beating Sinema and then holding the seat in the general election. Ed noted AOC’s comments last night in a post earlier but here they are again if you missed it:
"If it came down to someone like Ruben Gallego and Kyrsten Sinema, I think that would be the easiest decision I would ever have to make. There is no comparison."@aoc to me on @11thHour last night, on the prospect of a Democrat primarying @SenatorSinema:pic.twitter.com/oQiJnk1ak0
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) January 27, 2022
Per DFP, Mark Kelly’s favorable rating among Democratic primary voters in Arizona is 78/19. Sinema’s is … 19/76. If, at this time next year, she’s still rocking a 30/60 rating or whatever, does she decide to switch parties? Go independent and hope there’s enough centrist Republican and Democratic support to help her win a three-way race?
Democrats might like that idea, frankly. At this point, Sinema going third-party would be more likely to split the Republican vote in Arizona than the Democratic vote.
It’s worth noting, by the way, that animosity towards her among her own party isn’t new. This data comes from November, when progressives were spitting mad at her for driving a hard bargain on Build Back Better:
— Jonathan Robinson (@jon_m_rob) January 27, 2022
Thwarting the party once would have earned her some enemies but probably not so many that she couldn’t grudgingly win back their support by being a good soldier afterward. Thwarting the party twice by protecting the GOP’s ability to filibuster likely made the rift irreparable. Even if she plays nice with the left for the next two years, they’ll probably feel obliged to carry out their jihad against her just to show other mavericky Democrats (besides Joe Manchin) that there must and will be consequences for blocking the progressive agenda. They have to try to take her out if only to demonstrate that they mean business.
She issued this statement yesterday after news of Breyer’s retirement broke:
INBOX: Sinema Statement on Justice Breyer’s Retirement pic.twitter.com/1Swcu74XCP
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) January 27, 2022
Note that her own PR team made a point of reminding readers that she opposed Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination. Could a candidate like that really survive in a GOP primary?
I’m thinking … probably not but maybe, if the entire Republican leadership endorsed her knowing that she’s easily their best shot at holding the seat now that Doug Ducey has refused to run. But there again the GOP would run into a Trump problem, as it’s unthinkable that Trump would support a candidate who opposed him at every turn during his last two years as president. He doesn’t even support the filibuster that Sinema just went to the mat for!
The only thing that might bring the left around to supporting her very reluctantly in 2024 is if Kelly loses his election bid this fall. They’re counting on a steady Democratic drift in now purplish Arizona; if the state starts turning red again, sticking with an incumbent Democrat who’s popular with Republicans would be the prudent play for Dems when Sinema is up two years from now.
I’ll leave you with this bit of ugliness from an entirely mainstream, well-known Democratic podcast. Note that Alyssa Mastromonaco was one of Obama’s deputy chiefs of staff. It’s hard to believe Sinema has any future in this party.
BREAKING: Apparently the Obama Bros at @PodSaveAmerica think it's appropriate to call sitting U.S Senator Kyrsten Sinema a c*nt.
So much for "civility" and supporting women. pic.twitter.com/vW3eTjj4wT
— The Ann and Phelim Scoop 🎙 (@AP_Scoop) January 26, 2022