As a senator, Kelly has delivered tens of billions of dollars to Arizona, helped enact the most significant federal gun safety law in decades, secured funding for Arizona’s water infrastructure, and was a key negotiator of the CHIPS Act, a newly passed bill to invest in domestic microchip manufacturing.
Election Day is 97 days away, and Sen. Mark Kelly appears to be in good shape with Arizona voters, according to a new Courier Newsroom/Data for Progress poll.
Fifty-four percent of likely voters approve of the Democrat’s performance as senator, compared to only 42% who disapprove. Kelly, the astronaut-turned-lawmaker, has strong approval ratings from Democrats (91%) and independents (57%) and even receives positive marks from one out of five Republican voters.
Kelly does particularly well with key Democratic constituencies: Latinos approve of Kelly’s performance by a 39-point margin, voters under 45 approve of him by a 31-point margin, college graduates approve by a 29-point margin, and women approve of him by an 18-point margin.
Kelly, who won a special election to fill the late Sen. John McCain’s seat, has served in the Senate since December 2020. He will face off against Republican Blake Masters in November to win a full term.
A Robust Record
During his brief time in the Senate, Kelly has already played a significant role in passing legislation. He voted for the American Rescue Plan and President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law, legislation that collectively delivered tens of billions of dollars to Arizona to invest in the state’s healthcare, education, and infrastructure.
More recently, the senator voted for the most significant federal gun safety legislation in decades, helped secure funding for Arizona’s water infrastructure, and was a key negotiator of the CHIPS Act, a bipartisan bill currently awaiting Biden’s signature to become law.
The legislation incentivizes construction of semiconductor fabrication plants here in the US to make microchips, which are critical for the production of cars, cell phones, and medical equipment. These microchips—which are largely made in Taiwan—were in short supply during the pandemic, causing price surges and supply-chain disruptions. The CHIPS Act aims to strengthen American self-reliance, economic security, and competitiveness, and it also invests about $100 billion in technological development and innovation.
“That will mean tens of thousands of new jobs in places like Arizona, which is already a microchip hub poised to grow as Intel and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company expand and build new manufacturing facilities,” Kelly said on the Senate floor after the bill passed in late July. “That is all made possible by this legislation, and it creates jobs not just with those companies, but also with the companies that supply them the tools and packaging for their products. And these are great-paying jobs. And many of them do not require a four-year degree.
“Our country is going to once again be a leader in microchip manufacturing, creating tens of thousands of great paying jobs, strengthening our national security, and lowering costs for everyday products,” Kelly added.
Stark Contrast to MAGA Opponent
Kelly has also supported filibuster reform to pass voting rights legislation, backs a $15 federal minimum wage, and is a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would enshrine the abortion protections previously guaranteed under Roe v. Wade into federal law.
Whether that record is strong enough to fend off Masters remains to be seen. A former tech executive turned MAGA Republican, Masters has received most of his funding from his mentor, billionaire Peter Thiel, who once wrote that he “no longer believe[s] that freedom and democracy are compatible.”
Masters has mirrored Thiel’s anti-democratic beliefs, claiming falsely that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election and eroding trust in Arizona’s elections by spreading lies about voter fraud. He also downplayed the attack on the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and suggested it was a false flag operation set up by the FBI. In reality, the attack was a violent siege that left five people—including a Capitol police officer—dead and hundreds more injured.
While Kelly wants to protect abortion rights, Masters wants to ban abortion nationwide, even without exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. He has also suggested privatizing Social Security, a move that could put benefits at risk and leave millions of Americans’ economic security to the whims of the stock market.
Masters has also been endorsed by a literal neo-Nazi, and he has amplified and spread the nonsensical and dangerous “great replacement” conspiracy theory that Democrats are trying to replace white Americans with illegal immigrants for political and electoral gain. This malignant lie has influenced multiple mass shooters, including the gunman in the deadly 2019 massacre in El Paso, TX, and the gunman in Buffalo, NY, who murdered 10 Black people at a grocery store earlier this year.
Masters’ extreme stances helped earn him Trump’s endorsement, propelling him to victory in the primary, but could prove harmful in the general election against Kelly, who’s sought to appeal to a broad swath of the electorate.
If this new poll is any indication, Kelly’s efforts are paying off, leaving him in a strong position heading into November.