It seems rather strange to be thinking of Arizona as a key state and a cog in making sure Trump wins reelection, but such is the case in 2020. This is not neighboring New Mexico where you try to expand the states in play; Arizona should be a “given” to the GOP. Part of the problem may be demographics and a rising Latino population and some of it may be migration from neighboring California.
In 2016, Trump became the first Republican to win the state with less than 50% of the vote. Gary Johnson took 106,000 votes while other candidates took another 84,000. Despite falling under the 50% mark, he still came relatively close at 48.08% of the vote. Those 190,000 votes that went elsewhere than Trump or Clinton really have no one to run to this year. Considering that these voters and those who sat it out because they disliked both candidates in 2016, the dynamics are decidedly different this year. Trump now has four years under his belt of conservative achievement while Biden has a dubious 50-year career in politics.
Of course, GOTV efforts on the part of the Republicans and winning independents is important in every state and Arizona is no different, but the latter may be more important. In 1988, only 11.6% of registered voters were independent while today it stands at 33.5%.
As for that Latino vote, much has been made of it. Let’s use the Left’s argument, which holds some water, that Hispanic immigrants come to this country to seek a better life than in their home country. Is rioting in the streets, burning businesses, tearing down statues, etc. the “better life” they sought? This writer thinks not. I may be wrong since there are no demographics I can find of the summer protesters on the streets, but from much of what I saw, Hispanics were underrepresented.
Forget about people like Ocasio-Cortez; I doubt your average Hispanic in Arizona looks up to a New York Puerto Rican for inspiration. There is only so much rage to go around before people get bored and the BLM/antifa nuts stole the thunder from the immigration debate. Regardless, there is fairly consistent polling which shows that Hispanics rank immigration reform around #5 on their list of priorities after things like jobs, health care, the economy, and taxes. Gee… they’re just like non-Latinos.
In the Congressional races, the Democrats hold a 5-4 advantage in the delegation from Arizona to DC. The four Republicans are safe and on nobody’s radar, so this is all offense in Arizona for the GOP. Of the five Democrats, there are three potential targets: Tom O’Halleran in the First, Anne Kirkpatrick in the Second, and Greg Stanton in the Ninth.
Previous efforts to take down Kirkpatrick have proven fruitless, so this may not be in the cards. Greg Stanton won in 2018 by 23 points, so he may also be out of reach. That leaves O’Halleran in the First District who, although winning by a comfortable 7 percentage points in 2018, nevertheless represents a district Trump won in 2016 and that leans to the right, according to the Cook PVI. Picking up two seats would be great, but this writer is predicting one, most likely the First.
In the Senate race, GOP incumbent Martha McSally will face off against Mark Kelly who basically cleared the field when he entered the race. The former astronaut and husband of Gabby Giffords appears destined for a win. Democrats are high on this race and pumped a lot of money into it and Kelly has doubled up McSally in fundraising. Sometimes the source of the funding is a better indicator than raw totals and here McSally leads with more raised in-state than Kelly. After all, outside dollar bills cannot vote.
Unfortunately, this writer believes that Kelly will win, but that it will be a close one. If McSally can play to the socially conservative tendencies of Arizona’s Hispanics while portraying Kelly as a name running on a single-issue agenda like gun control, she has a chance. We may not know the final tally until after November 3rd. And McSally has to put Kelly on the record: if he were a Senator, would he have voted to remove Trump from office through impeachment?
At the lowest point in Trump’s tenure, Trump held strong in the polls out of Arizona. During the summer as the coronavirus, riots, BLM and antifa, and other craziness was in the news, Trump’s averages in the state actually improved. For example, going into July, he was down by 2 points to Biden. Midway through the month he was basically even. It is the same today. Will it be easy in 2020? No, but Trump will prevail and, with all due respect to the political junkies and pundits, it matters little whether you win with less than or greater than 50% of the vote as long as you beat the person behind you by one vote. Trump wins Arizona’s 11 electoral votes.
Trump still trails Biden 223-147. A gain of one seat in the House leaves the GOP down 159-126, but the Republicans lose a Senate seat and the Democrats and GOP are tied 41-41 as the drama builds.