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ICYMI: Blake Masters Strains to Win Over Arizona’s Independent Voters [The New York Times]

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The New York Times: Blake Masters Strains to Win Over Arizona’s Independent Voters
Polls and interviews suggest that independents, who make up about a third of the state’s electorate, are lukewarm on the Republican’s Senate bid. More than one called him a “flip-flopper.”
By Jazmine Ulloa
September 28, 2022

Key Points:

  • Blake Masters… has erased from his website some of his most emphatically right-wing stances on immigration, abortion and the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.
  • But on a recent afternoon in Scottsdale, an affluent Phoenix suburb, Kate Feo, a 40-year-old independent voter, was not buying the shift.
  • “I just don’t think he has an opinion on much until he is pressed for it, and then he kind of just comes up with whatever is popular at the moment,” she said as she strolled through a park with her three young children. She called Mr. Masters “a flip-flopper.”
  • Skepticism from voters in the political center is emerging as a stubborn problem for Mr. Masters.
  • Independents and voters unaffiliated with either major party matter more in Arizona than in nearly any other battleground state. After roughly tripling in number over the past three decades to 1.4 million, they have helped push the state from reliably red to tossup, and now make up about a third of the voting population. And with early voting beginning in two weeks, it is among this critical electoral bloc that Mr. Masters appears to be struggling the most.
  • In nearly a dozen interviews in Phoenix and Tucson, as well as in the purplish Phoenix suburbs of Arcadia, Chandler and Scottsdale, most independent voters expressed views of Mr. Masters as inauthentic, slippery on the issues and not truly dedicated to Arizona.
  • “I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him,” said Thomas Budinger, 26, an assistant manager at a store in a Tucson mall. A few other independents scrunched their noses or rolled their eyes at the mention of the candidate’s name.
  • In some of Mr. Masters’s earliest television and digital ads, he claimed without evidence that Mr. Trump had won the 2020 election.
  • On his website, as in speeches and podcasts, he echoed a sanitized version of the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, claiming that Democrats were trying to bring more immigrants into the country to change its demographics and give the party an edge.
  • His site deleted mentions of his support for some of the most stringent abortion restrictions, including “a federal personhood law (ideally a Constitutional amendment) that recognizes that unborn babies are human beings that may not be killed.”
  • More common were perceptions of Mr. Masters like that of Hector Astacio, another independent who called him a “flip-flopper.” Mr. Astacio, 62, a manufacturing engineer in Chandler, said he did not like that Mr. Masters seemed to echo Mr. Trump’s bigotry in his immigration messaging.
  • “I see the racism — if you are Hispanic, if you are of a different color,” he said. “It does not sit well with me.”

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