Decision 2020: Trump vs. Biden in Arizona

Sean Thompson ’20

Arizona Presidential Election Results 2016
Ali Zifan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The presidential battleground state of Arizona has been a highly contested swing state in this upcoming election. Republicans have been the state’s dominant party as residents align with more conservative ideologies; every Republican candidate since Dwight D. Eisenhower, except for Bob Dole, has won the state of Arizona. In 1996, Bill Clinton won Arizona over Dole. The state has had over 72 years of Republican voting. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump beat Hillary Clinton with 48.1 percent of the votes. In the current election, Biden is leading with 48.2 percentage points over Trump, who has 45.5 percent. Biden could be the first Democratic candidate to win this state since 1996. The change in this voting most likely has to do with the demographic of voters. It has been reported that more people have moved in and out of Arizona, either due to professions or other reasons. There is also a growth in the Hispanic population, which leans more democratic. There are more democratic residents moving to Arizona as well. Republican voters are also shifting more democratic as they are not pleased with Trump’s current administration. The result of this election will be tough for Arizona. Political scientists predict that the state could go blue, but it could go either way.

This election is still undecided for Arizona. Democrats’ primary concern for this election is health care and education. Trump is running on immigration. With the growing Hispanic population, Trump may have a challenging time obtaining voters with his anti-immigration stance. The pandemic is also a significant issue for the state. Trump lost about 25 percent of the 65 and older population votes due to the handling of COVID-19. His push for reopening the country could indicate to some voters that he is more focused on the economy than citizens’ health and safety.

There are general strengths and weaknesses for Biden and Trump in their race for Arizona. Trump’s strength is that there are Republican counties that remain steady and loyal. His weakness is his ability to appeal to voters, especially the Hispanic community. The anti-immigrant rhetoric has been seen as racist and pushed voters to the left in support of Biden. Arizona’s 2010 law (1070 Senate Bill) created more immigration enforcement measures and has caused more Hispanic voters to become engaged in politics. Many have helped boost voter turnout in Arizona. Biden’s strength is to capitalize on this support from suburban areas in Arizona. He also has a lot of support from the Hispanic population. His only challenge will be convincing more rural, conservative voters.

There are four primary areas of interest for the parties in the state. These include Phoenix, Maricopa County, Pima County, and the rural regions. In Phoenix, a young majority of voters and a substantial Hispanic population have voted mostly Democrat. The city is also a profitable media market that provides TV ads for Biden’s campaign. Pima County is primarily liberal and will most likely turn out blue. The rural parts of Arizona have older and less diverse citizens, which will turn out to be red. In the end, Arizona will be interesting to watch in this upcoming election. It has a mix of red and blue and has turned into a purple state. Only time will tell if the state remains red or will become blue for the first time in 24 years.