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Politico elections forecaster Steven Shepard changed the rating of the U.S. Senate race in Arizona to a “toss up” Wednesday, shifting it away from Democrats less than two weeks away from the election.
Republican Blake Masters has surged in recent weeks on a wave of support for GOP priorities such as immigration, inflation, and crime. Masters has also been aided by a strong Republican performance in the Arizona gubernatorial race by former television news anchor Kari Lake, according to Politico.
Masters is running to oust Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. Kelly won his seat in a special election in 2020 and is running to secure his first full term in the Senate. Kelly’s campaign has hammered abortion access following the overturning of Roe v. Wade while distancing the senator from President Joe Biden, who threatens to drag down Democrats with his unpopularity.
Masters has lagged behind Kelly, but polling now shows him within the margin of error. A Trafalgar/Daily Wire poll last week put the race within one point. It found Masters trailing Kelly 46% to 47%.
Arizona’s Senate race has joined contests in Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in Politico’s “toss up” category. The shift strengthens the GOP’s chances of taking control of the U.S. Senate next year. Republicans must score wins in three of the five “toss up” states to gain the majority if every other race goes with the favored candidate, according to Politico.
Kelly has one of the best-funded campaigns in the U.S. He has raised well over $70 million for his re-election campaign and had an estimated $13 million on hand at the end of September.
Masters has struggled to raise funds and lagged behind in the money race for the entirety of the campaign. Masters’ largest backer is tech maven Peter Thiel, who backed Masters to the tune of $15 million during the primary. Theil has withheld additional support during the general, though reporting suggests that Thiel plans to spend $5 million in Masters’ race in the final weeks.
Masters has received some help in the final stretch from outside groups and political action committees. Saving Arizona PAC, initially backed by Thiel, has spent roughly $3.7 million on ads. It is unclear whether that additional spending is from money Thiel donated.