GOP poll: Ariz. Democrats gaining in Presidential and Senate races

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- He's one of the top Republican politicos in the state, and Thursday he delivered some bad news to his party.

Chuck Coughlin's political consulting firm HighGround, Inc. released a new poll showing Democrats are making a late charge in presidential and senate races.

According to the survey, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is holding a slim lead over Democratic president Barack Obama.

At the same time, the survey shows Democratic Senate candidate Richard Carmona within a few points of his Republican rival, Congressman Jeff Flake.

The results in both races were within the margin of error, meaning it's a dead-heat heading into the last six weeks of the campaign.

For many in Arizona political circles, these results would have been almost unthinkable just a few of months ago when Romney and Flake each held commanding leads in their respective races.

Coughlin, who has a reputation as a fierce Republican political consultant, said he released the poll because he wanted voters to have a fair assessment of where the state stands right now.

"This is not going to be a landslide election one way or the other,' Coughlin said.

Coughlin is known for being one of Gov. Jan Brewer's top political advisers who engineered her 2010 election.

That same year, his shop successfully ran the Brewer-backed Proposition 100, a temporary 1-cent statewide sales tax increase that was used to pay for education programs.

Coughlin said the results of his latest survey mean these races will come down to who "can grab the momentum in the next two weeks and who can close effectively."

In the Senate race, Coughlin said it’s Carmona who has the momentum on his side. But, he warned, that can change quickly, especially for a first time candidate like Carmona.

Recent polls show Carmona gaining on Flake appear to back up Coughlin's claims. For example, some polls at the beginning of the summer had Flake beating Carmona by 16 points.

That same trend appears to be happening in the presidential race. One survey in July had Romney up 13 points over the Commander-in-Chief.

Specifically, the details of the new poll poll show Romney leading Obama 46 percent to 42 percent.

And in the Senate race, it has Flake up three points over Carmona, 43 percent to 40 percent.

The Portland-based Moore Information conducted the poll over Sept. 25 and 26.