Kyrsten Sinema earns growing Republican support for bipartisan Senate approach

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is gaining a remarkable amount of support from moderates and Republicans, seen as crucial in her battleground state of Arizona though that isn’t sitting well with members of her own Democratic Party.

Sinema’s stances on a $15 minimum wage and her refusal to agree to end the filibuster so Democrats in her evenly divided chamber can pass legislation without any Republican assistance have won her the most plaudits among GOP and right-leaning Independents, according to a new survey.

According to OH Predictive Insights’ July Arizona Public Opinion Pulse (AZPOP) survey, both of Arizona’s Democratic senators, including Mark Kelly, who is up for reelection next year, get some love from GOP voters.

Sinema, who is serving her first term after defeating Sen. Martha McSally (R) in 2018, is viewed favorably by some 37 percent of GOP voters. That is a notable shift since her 2018 campaign when Republicans often criticized her in favor of McSally.

In addition, according to the AZPOP survey, Fox News watchers give her a plus-12-point favorability rating, though she gets a 40-percent unfavorability rating from voters of her own party.

“While she still needs to attract those [Democratic] voters back into her camp, Sinema’s outreach to Republicans continues to pay dividends,” said OHPI Chief of Research Mike Noble.

Besides Sinema’s frequent dismissal of efforts to convince her to back a majority of her party in the Senate to ditch the filibuster, Republicans gave her plaudits for voting against an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, in which she gave a “thumbs-down” sign when she cast her ‘no’ vote in the chamber — an action that mimicked the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, when he gave a thumbs-down sign to vote against a “skinny” repeal of Obamacare in 2017.

But Sinema was one of eight other Democrats who also voted against increasing the minimum wage, though combined with her stance on the filibuster, she has garnered the most angst from her party.

“My support for retaining the 60-vote threshold is not based on the importance of any particular policy,” Sinema wrote earlier in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

“It is based on what is best for our democracy. The filibuster compels moderation and helps protect the country from wild swings between opposing policy poles,” she added.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has also said he opposes ditching the filibuster.

Members of her party have accused her of standing in the way of major legislative priorities for her party, including passage of the “For the People Act,” which would essentially federalize elections for national offices and wipe away state statutes requiring voter ID, closer monitoring of ballot drop-off boxes, cleaning voter registration rolls of unqualified names, and other voter integrity rules.

One left-wing group, Progress Arizona, which is based in Phoenix, tweeted recently that Sinema’s backing for the legislation was “meaningless” because she won’t support ending the filibuster, Just The News reported.

“Both Sinema and Kelly have statistically equivalent favorability ratings among independent voters of 46% and 47%, the OHPI survey said,” the outlet reported, adding that Kelly is supported by both men and women but that Sinema is down 5 points with women.

“As Arizona turns into a battleground state, the state’s two Democratic senators are learning to appeal to Republican voters,” Noble said.

“As each draws closer to a reelection campaign, Sinema and Kelly must walk the fine line of supporting a Democratic agenda in the Senate while keeping Republican and Independent voters from jumping ship,” he added.

In a statement last month to the Associated Press, Sinema made it clear that the real hard work on Capital Hill is achieving bipartisan solutions.

“It’s the easiest thing in the world for politicians to declare bipartisanship dead and line up on respective sides of a partisan battle,” she said. “What’s harder is getting out of our comfort zones, finding common ground with unlikely allies, and forming coalitions that can achieve durable, lasting results.”

Jon Dougherty

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