Statistical Tie in Arizona 8th Congressional. Democrats Positioned for Surprise Upset in the Desert

A new Emerson College Poll has Democratic candidate Hiral Tipirneni in a statistical dead heat with her Republican opponent Debbie Lesko 46% to 45%, in a special election to be held on April 24. President Trump won the district 58% to 37% in 2016. Data was collected April 12-15 with a +/- 5.2 percentage point credibility interval.

Tipirneni is the most popular candidate in the race, with a 49% favorable and 29% unfavorable opinion. Lesko is slightly underwater with a 43% favorable and 45% unfavorable opinion. Trent Franks, the former congressman who resigned the seat, has a 24% favorable and 49% unfavorable opinion. President Trump’s job approval in the district is 44% approve and 46% disapprove.

Education is the most important issue for 1 in 3 voters (33%), while immigration is equally as important (33%). Healthcare (15%) and the economy (10%) rounded out the top four issues in the district.

Voters who said education was their most important issue are breaking for Tipirneni 67% to 22%, and similar with the issue of healthcare – Tipirneni leads 69% to 26% among voters. Lesko leads among voters who said immigration was their most important issue 82% to 10%.

Unlike previous elections where the Democrats held strong leads with women and Republicans held strong leads with men, in this race gender does not appear to be a significant variable. Party affiliation however is driving the vote as 86% of Democrats are voting for Tipirneni while 78% of Republicans are voting for Lesko. Independents are breaking for Tipirneni 54% to 36%.

Tipirneni voters appear more excited than Lesko voters with 52% saying they are very excited compared with 43% of Lesko voters.


The AZ USC 8th district Emerson College ePoll was conducted April 12-15 2018 under the Supervision of Professor Spencer Kimball. The sample consisted of only likely registered voters, n=400, with a Credibility Interval (similar to margin of error) of +/- 5.2 percentage points. The data was weighted by party affiliation, gender, age, ethnicity and mode based on a registered voter model. Data was collected using both an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines only and an online panel provided by Survey Sampling International (SSI).

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