Small losses added up to big defeat for Kelly

Erosion in support all over District 8 cost Republican the race against Barber
2012-06-17T00:03:00Z 2012-06-17T07:03:42Z Small losses added up to big defeat for KellyBrady McCombs and Rob O'Dell Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Republican Jesse Kelly went from a squeaker loss in 2010 to near-blowout defeat in 2012 - not because of a big shift in voter response to his campaign, but because of lots and lots of little ones.

A look at the precinct-by-precinct results from last Tuesday's Congressional District 8 special election shows Kelly still won the areas he carried back in 2010, but by a couple of percentage points smaller margin. And he still lost in the same places to Democrat Ron Barber as he lost to former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2010, but by a slightly bigger margin.

In the end, a little hit here, a little hit there added up to a dominating 14,000-vote win by Barber, after a narrow - and hope-inspiring - 4,000-vote loss to Giffords two years ago.

A precinct-by-precinct analysis by the Arizona Daily Star, shown in the attached maps, details how Kelly fared in the two counties where he won in both elections:

• Won with 54 percent of the votes in Pinal County - down from 58 percent in 2010.

• Won with 52 percent of the vote in Cochise County - down from 53 percent in 2010.

In the two counties where Kelly lost in both elections, he slipped even further behind over the course of two years.

• In Pima County, which accounted for 84 percent of the votes cast on June 12, he garnered 44 percent of the votes - down from 46 percent in 2010.

• In Santa Cruz County, he received 41 percent of the votes - down from 45 percent in 2010.

The slippage is particularly evident in SaddleBrooke, one of Kelly's main strongholds. The two precincts there rank in the top four for the number of registered voters, among CD8's 352 precincts. Yet only 5,608 people were motivated to vote this time around, down from 6,403 in 2010.

To be fair, it is impossible to say how much of that decline was the result of the retirees who live there skipping town for the hot summer months - such residents would normally be here for a November election.

Overall, turnout was down across the district for the special election, at just over 50 percent, compared to 66 percent in November 2010, when voters had a plethora of other candidates and issues on the ballot to vote for.

But even among the voters who did turn out, Kelly was less popular, dropping from 58 percent of the vote in 2010 to 54 percent this year.

Though he previously said he would run again in the newly drawn Congressional District 2, Kelly withdrew this past week after looking at Tuesday's result.

That leaves Republican Martha McSally, who finished second to Kelly in the CD8 GOP primary, as Barber's likely challenger in the Nov. 6 general election. First Barber must defeat state Rep. Matt Heinz in the Aug. 28 primary.

Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or bmccombs@azstarnet.com

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