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Arizona: Red, Purple or Blue?

Arizona has 4.1 million registered voters and 11 electoral votes. Demographic data indicates the state gradually approaching a minority-majority: 54% white and 46% minorities. Arizona is 32% Democrat, 35% Republican and 32% independent. The independent voters are integral to the swing of the elections. Historically Arizona has been a reliable red state, however in recent years the evolving state demographics along with events have political pundits questioning its political allegiance.

Except for Bill Clinton’s win in 1996, Arizona has voted republican in every presidential election since 1952. In 2016 Donald Trump won against Hillary Clinton by 3.5 percent, even though polls showed Hillary ahead by a hairline margin. The same year republican John McCain won the Senatorial seat by 13% and republicans won five out of the state’s nine House seats.

The 2018 midterm elections showed the republican party losing ground. Arizona elected its first democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema, since 1988. The Senate race was highly contested, and Sinema won by just 2%. The mid-term also elected republican Governor, Doug Ducey, and Democrats won five of the state’s 9 House seats. Republican loses were largely contributed to two events: Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and his pro-Arpaio stance.

In the 2020 elections either party could win both the presidency and the senate seat. Onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportional effect on minorities and 65 and above (65+) age group is likely going to affect the shift of this election. The 65+ are the most dependable voters (68% voted in 2016) however, they also experienced the most COVID casualties at 74% of total deaths. Recent polls show Biden leading Trump by a slim margin; however, he remains below the 50 percent support mark. Considering the fact that 2016 polls showed Hillary leading Trump, the presidential seat is a toss-up. The special election Senate race between republican Senator Martha McSally and democrat Captain Mark Kelly is crucial for both parties. The delicate balance of the Senate and thus the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, to replace Justice Ginsberg, is potentially at stake. So far Kelly has consistently polled higher than McSally.

Arizona’s 11 electoral votes and Senate special election has made it one of the most important states in the 2020 election. Which way the state swings will be largely dependent on the unaffiliated voters. A blue wave is only possible if more people vote.

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