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Arizona Poll: GOP Candidate ‘Pulling Away from Her Democrat Opponent’ in Congressional Special Election

A poll released by Emerson College on Monday shows Republican candidate Debbie Lesko “pulling away from her Democrat opponent Hiral Tipirneni” with a six-point lead one day before the special election in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District to replace Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), who resigned after a personal scandal.

The Emerson College ePoll shows that Lesko leads Tipirneni by a 49 percent to 43 percent margin, with 8 percent undecided.

The poll was conducted over a five-day period between Thursday, April 19, and Monday, April 23, of 400 likely voters in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District and has a margin of error of 5.2 percent.

“Data was collected using both an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines only and an online panel provided by Survey Sampling International (SSI),” according to the Emerson College press release about the poll.

A poll Emerson College conducted on the race last week showed it was a statistical tie between the GOP’s Lesko and Tipirneni. A poll released by OH Creative on the race last week had different results, showing Lesko up by ten points.

Emerson College explained that the difference between its poll last week showing the race a statistical tie (it gave Tipirneni a one-point lead, but that was within the poll’s margin of error) and this week’s poll showing Lesko with a lead beyond the margin of error is related to the different turnout model used this week, which reflects early voting behavior:

This week’s poll used voter turnout projections based on the early vote to determine the party splits. The data finds Republicans making up about 49% of the total vote, as compared with Democrats, who make up just under 28% of the total vote. In the previous Emerson epoll, the turnout projections were based on voter registration numbers which has the district at 41% Republican and 25% Democratic.

The heightened Republican voter turnout may have been influenced by recent reports questioning the professional background of Tipirneni, the Democrat candidate.

“A Phoenix-area congressional candidate, who made her career as an emergency room doctor a key point of her campaign, tells ABC15 she has not treated patients since 2007,” ABC 15 reported this month:

Hiral Tipirneni, D-Glendale, also settled a malpractice lawsuit just months before leaving her ER career, according to court records.

The malpractice lawsuit was filed by a Phoenix woman, Belen Carrillo, before her death. Carrillo claimed that Tipirneni and a physicians employee group failed to give her a medically necessary tetanus immunization while treating her for a leg wound in 2001. According to the plaintiff’s lawyer and son, Carrillo, then 72, contracted tetanus, ended up in a coma for weeks, and suffered kidney failure. The lawsuit says Carrillo sustained “permanent injury and disability.”

Tipirneni, 50, says the lawsuit did not cause her to change careers. Instead, Tipirneni said, she was impacted by two relatives who died from cancer.

“Tipirneni is not currently board certified in emergency medicine,” ABC 15 reported:

In recent years, she worked as a scientific review officer for a Virginia company, and she said that role includes acting as a “cancer research advocate.”

At least two Tipirneni campaign videos feature her wearing medical scrubs and appearing in a hospital-like setting, ABC15 asked the candidate if that portrayal is disingenuous due to the fact she had not treated patients medically in more than a decade.

“No,” Tipirneni said. “That’s a skill set I am very proud of, and I worked very hard to acquire.”

Tipirneni’s professional background and political positioning differ from those of Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), a military veteran and attorney who parlayed his public opposition to Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) into a narrow victory over his Republican opponent in last month’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District.

Michael Patrick Leahy

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