A new poll shows a direct link between how Arizonans feel about Jan Brewer challenging the injunction on the new immigration law and who they support for governor.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen found that 88 percent of those who believe Brewer is justified in the appeal say they will vote for her. Conversely, 82 percent of those who say the Republican governor never should have appealed the injunction say Democrat Terry Goddard is their choice.
But the bad news out of all that for Goddard is that Rasmussen said 55 percent of the 500 people questioned on Thursday are supporters of the legal challenge, with just 38 percent opposed.
All that shakes out to Rasmussen's overall survey finding Brewer ahead by a margin of 53-39. That survey, which has a 4.5 percent margin of error, gives the incumbent a slightly better advantage than a survey last weekend by the Democrat-oriented Public Policy Polling which showed Brewer ahead by a 52-44 margin.
While Rasmussen isn't willing to say there is no way Goddard can make up the ground, he said the hurdles are formidable.
Part of the problem is that a good number of Arizonans already have voted, making anything that happens now electorally moot.
In the state's largest county, nearly half of those eligible to vote requested early ballots. County officials said half of those already are in their hands.
And 53 percent of those in the Rasmussen survey said they marked their ballot for Brewer. Goddard has 43 percent of those already-cast votes, with the balance saying they voted for one of the other two candidates on the ballot.
Goddard, campaigning Friday afternoon in Thatcher and Clifton, said that doesn't concern him.
"The people who ask for ballots and the ones that turn them in early are the most committed on both sides," he said. "They're the ones that, frankly, are least persuadable."
He said that is why his campaign is focused on last-minute persuasion.
It also is focused on his presumption that heavily Republican Maricopa County is going to go for Brewer. Goddard said his hope is to minimize her margin there while winning big in Pima County and much of the rest of the state.
Rasmussen said he's not sure any strategy would have worked for a Democratic challenger this year.
"This was, for Terry Goddard, the worst possible year to be running for governor," he said.
Rasmussen said there were too many things working against the Democratic challenger.
Central to that, he said, was Brewer's strong support for the new law aimed at illegal immigration. But he said Brewer also drew sympathy from those who were resentful that the governor - and the state - were attacked by outsiders over the law.
And you add to that the unhappiness with the federal government, including what voters perceive as the failure to do more about illegal immigration.
"When you put it all together, it was the immigration legislation, SB 1070, that has shaped this race," Rasmussen said.
The survey shows that, despite the controversy, 50 percent of those questioned believe that passage of the new immigration law has been good for the state's image. Another 44 percent said it has hurt Arizona's image, with the balance either unsure or saying it has made no difference.
Half of Arizonans also said they believe approval of SB 1070 has actually been good for the state's economy, with 37 percent believing the reverse.
The poll shows Goddard running neck-in-neck with Brewer among women voters. It is the 2-1 support of men for the incumbent that places him behind overall.
Goddard questioned the results, in part because Rasmussen uses a system of automated telephone prompts to seek responses rather than having an individual make the inquiries.
Aside from that, he said there are inherent problems with any telephone survey given that many young people and those living on the reservation do not have regular phones.
He said his own internal polls - also taken by phone - have him within four points of Brewer.