Biden’s state victory that propelled Republican leaders such as Barry Goldwater and John McCain to the national lead could herald problems for the party in the future. Three major shifts in the state helped Democrats this year: a growing Latino population leaning towards democracy, an increase in the number of voters moving to Arizona from more liberal states like California and Illinois, and the way suburban voters have blatantly split from the Republican Party led by someone like Trump. .
Arizona, by going blue, is approaching its northwestern neighbor – Nevada, where Democrats have controlled nearly every aspect of government – and far from the state’s traditional right-wing direction.
The Democratic victory – announced days after CNN expected Biden to win the presidential race – was anchored in Maricopa County, the home of Phoenix and nearly 60% of all people in the state. Maricopa is the nation’s fastest-growing province, having transformed over the past two decades into a sprawling block of urban centers, sun-burned planned communities and bustling shopping malls.
“Maricopa County, Arizona, won Mark Kelly and Joe Biden,” said Stephen Slogoki, the chair of the Maricopa County Democrats. “Here in Maricopa, we have committed our resources to reaching out to colored voters, women and underrepresented groups across the state. Our strategy has proven effective.”
Biden is the second Democrat to win Arizona since 1948, when Harry Truman won. Bill Clinton narrowly won the state in 1996, but Arizona moved further to the right in the next two decades, as it elected hard-line immigration advocates such as Gov. Jean Brewer and Maricopa County Mayor Joe Arbayo and passed laws such as SB 1070, a controversial state law requiring officers to conduct checks. Immigration while implementing other laws when there is a “reasonable suspicion” of illegal immigration.
The Democrats ’victory relied on the work of grassroots organizations on the ground in Arizona, many of which focused on the state’s growing Latino population by uniting around Arpaio opposition and suppressing immigration. These groups provided the state Democratic apparatus – which had scored few wins to boast of going back to 2010 – with the building blocks needed to grow into an influential force capable of winning a Senate seat in 2018, and only two years later, another. Senate seat and presidential race.
“This year has been a triumph for more than a decade of working in this state,” said Laura Dent, CEO of Chispa Arizona, one of the organizations that has formed a coalition called Mi AZ, a six-group alliance. I’ve been engaging voters, especially Hispanics, for years. “It has been more than a decade of construction and the ongoing work of organizing between electoral cycles is crucial.”
Dent said organizing around SB 1070 was a “catalyst” for these groups to band together around something and the “build that collective strength” on offer this year. Since 2018 alone, Chispa Arizona alone has registered 44,000 voters, and made 1.3 million voter calls this year in Arizona.
The shift will show up in Arizona again in Washington, DC, as top party operatives try to figure out how they lost a state like Arizona, which only six years ago was seen as a Republican lockdown. The Key Question: Will the rising democratization organization in the state make Arizona out of reach in the coming years?
Yasser Sanchez, an immigration attorney who volunteered for the Republican presidential campaign, Mitt Romney in 2012 and worked for McCain’s 2016 reelection to the Senate, before Trump’s Republican party refused to help organize Biden’s Latino voters. “Every time I heard it was going to be before, I thought it was a security.”
Looming on the horizon is Biden’s victory the legacy of McCain, the Arizona supporter whose conservative “dissent” has carried a coalition of Democrats, Independents and Republicans for years in the state. Trump and McCain’s relationship was tense, and when the senator voted against President Obama’s bill to repeal the Obama Act, the tension exploded, prompting Trump to double his mock attacks on the Republican senator, even after his death in 2018. This, along with the comments that were said Trump made it up about members of the military and veterans, spurring McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, to support Biden, an endorsement that was on the front page of the state news.
Republicans such as Chad Heywood, a former Arizona Republican executive, have argued that the Democratic victory does not herald a major transformation in the state.
“This was a purple state that looked red during the Obama years,” Heywood said, adding that if the president ended up losing the state by less than 3 percentage points, it wouldn’t be “a huge maritime change in Arizona.”
But Arizona was considered so reliably red in 2014 that a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California at Los Angeles called Mesa – a sprawling suburb east of Phoenix – “the most conservative American city.”
“Ten years ago, if you wanted to be politically connected and if you wanted your vote to make an impact, it would have been stupid for you to be registered as a Democrat because they failed to put forward a candidate for some office,” said John Giles, the Mayor of Mesa, a Republican registered for a nonpartisan job . “Until then, it was just volunteering to have the general killed by the Republicans.”
However, in the past decade, Mesa – like much of the areas around Phoenix – has grown more ethnically and politically more diverse, leading Giles to say, “That’s definitely not the case now. It’s very competitive.”
The main reason, Giles said, is people moving into the area – like Amy Schaefer, a Biden-supported transplant from Chicago who moved to Phoenix in 2019.
“I hope to change the state’s blue,” Schaefer said after casting her vote. “Trust me, I’ve tried to turn everyone I can turn into.”
As much as Arizona changes because of people like Schaefer, it is also changing because of registered Republicans like Joe Haddock, the 62-year-old computer engineer from Phoenix who voted Romney in 2012 and was a huge McCain fan. But Haddock and his wife Chris voted for Biden in 2020.
“Trump is dangerous for the country,” Haddock said after the vote days before the election. “In the past four years, Republicans have shown their true colors … I wish there was a center party.”
Another reason Democrats believe they were able to compete in Arizona is the Coronavirus, which shook the state over the summer, in part due to the state government’s decision to allow the stay-at-home order to expire in May.
Before the Corona virus, national Republican officials told CNN that “there is no doubt that Arizona was a major battlefield, but they were not concerned about Arizona turning blue.”
That quickly changed as the virus spread across the state, with more than 160,000 deaths and 3,600 people in Maricopa County alone.
The impact of the virus can be felt among supporters of Trump and Biden. Those who support the president have often given him the advantage of suspecting the virus, arguing that it has been unfairly hurt, and indicating that Biden would be very keen to shut down the economy once again to get the virus under control. For many Biden supporters, the coronavirus was on top of minds and many blamed Trump, often citing personal experiences with the pandemic as part of their reason for choosing to support Biden.
“The way Biden interacted with certain things (about the virus) gave me a different perspective on how interested he was,” said Nikki Townes, an 18-year-old from Chandler, who cast her first ballot for Biden. On Trump’s handling of the virus: “I feel he didn’t really deal with it. It was being ignored.”
Biden won in Arizona was not due to Trump’s failure to bid. The president held seven state events in 2020. Biden held one event after the Democratic National Convention during the summer, a bus ride around Maricopa in October.
For Slugocki, these visits did little to penetrate voters’ focus on education, healthcare, and the economy.
The county party chief said, “The voters clearly wanted something new from Arizona. Voters were energetic and eager to vote. Maricopa County elections are safe and transparent.” “A bright future awaits Maricopa County, and I couldn’t be proud.”