Is Arizona Turning Purple?


Taylor Pray is a senior honors student double-majoring in political science and journalism with a minor in legal studies at the University of Arkansas. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Taylor has worked on several local and state campaigns and most recently interned with Arkansas’ junior senator. After graduation, Taylor plans to attend law school and pursue a career in public interest law.

Historically, Arizona has not been close to swing state status, unlike perpetual swing states Ohio and Florida. Even in this election cycle, as long-blue Pennsylvania looked as if it could decide the election, Arizona was never considered one of the eleven swing states Politico has identified this fall. When I think of Arizona, I think red – “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio and the now-dead SB 1070 (the controversial Arizona law banning illegal immigrants) come to mind. However, you can now consider Arizona leaning– it’s within the realm of possibility that Hillary Clinton could carry the state in November.

Demographics in Arizona have continued to change since 2012, when Mitt Romney carried the state by 10 percentage points. Certainly, white men and women there trend towards being strongly conservative – that’s Donald Trump’s ideal base. Most notable is the state’s increasingly powerful Latino population – 15.5%. That’s over four points above the national average of the nation’s percentage of voting Latinos.

Additionally, Arizona Senator John McCain withdrew his endorsement for Donald Trump, after the hot-mic story broke nearly a week ago. But McCain, who himself is in the middle of a re-election race, may not hold much influence in Arizona anymore. McCain said that after examining his conscience, it was “impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.” While some applauded this decision, many of Arizona’s conservative voters now say they will not vote for McCain because he shows a lack of loyalty towards the Republican nominee.

Prediction: I predict that Arizona will stay red this November. It’s absolutely possible for Latinos to swing the votes in Arizona, but only if they turn out in larger than usual numbers. Given the revelations about Donald Trump that have dominated the news cycle in the past few weeks and the lack of enthusiasm for the Democratic candidate, I don’t think voters will feel nearly as pressured to get out and vote, because they think Trump will lose, regardless of their vote. However, I do think it will be a very close contest in Arizona, completely hinging on who is able to turn out more voters.

With that being said, while I was writing this post late on the afternoon of October 14, Data Orbital released a new poll (conducted Oct. 11-12) that shows Clinton leading Trump in Arizona, 43-42. In a state that’s usually a no-brainer win for most Republican candidates, this year it could truly be up for grabs.

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