5 things to watch in every state: Arizona

Arizona is going to be a surprisingly fun state to watch a fortnight from now.  Unlike some of the states where I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to find things I’m interested in watching, there’s easily 5 things that I’m interested in watching in Arizona on November 8th.

  1. Presidential election: In the last 60 years, the only Presidential election in which Arizona voted for the Democratic nominee was 1996.  Clinton’s second term, he was able to barely beat out Bob Dole in 1996 in Arizona (a Presidential election where Dole had pretty much given up before the end).  Is it possible that Hillary Clinton can win Arizona for only the second time in the last 60 years?  It’s certainly possible. Trump is not doing that well in Arizona thanks to the demographic make up of the state and Clinton doing historically well with Latino voters.  What’s more is that Hillary’s “get out the vote” efforts will start her up by quite a few points prior to election day thanks to early voting and absentee votes.  This is one of the states that I think is a true tossup for election day.  The Real Clear Politics Polling Average has Clinton up 1.5 right now. Gary Johnson might spoil some votes (he received 1.4% of the vote in Arizona in 2012).  Also, there are 418,959 Mormons in Arizona.  Evan McMullin who is more or less running as a spoiler for Donald Trump and a Mormom alternative for Mormons (who are really not wanting to vote for Trump) has write-in ballot access in Arizona.  The demographics and the potential spoilers should be enough to tip the election close enough where Clinton’s GOTV efforts should be able to win the state.
  2. Proposition 205: The ballot measure that a lot of people are going to be following throughout November 8th because it’s a marijuana legalization proposition which excites even the casual observer.  The ballot measure would allow for marijuana to be more or less regulated like alcohol and would be somewhat similar to Colorado.  The elected officials involved in Arizona are split along party lines on whether or not they support it.  According to the polls I’ve seen, it is pretty split whether or not Proposition will pass.  I’m not too sure of what is going to happen with regards to this proposition.  My gut is telling me that the way Clinton wins the state is thanks to demographics and enough third and fourth party spoilers that this proposition will be very close.  I think this will be significantly closer than the Presidential election in Arizona. That’s saying something.
  3. Arizona’s 1st Congressional District: For some strange reason, I’ve become slightly obsessed with this Congressional race.  The incumbent for this race is Ann Kirkpatrick who is going to run for the U.S. Senate instead of running for re-election.  She won re-election to this district in 2014 by less than 10,000 votes.  She won election in 2012 by less than 10,000 votes after losing to Paul Gosar in 2010 by 13,000 votes when she was running for re-election. This is a fairly close Congressional district and would typically be a target for taking the seat for the Republican Party.  Tom O’Halleran is running as the Democratic nominee in the district.  O’Halleran is a former Republican who changed from Republican to Independent to Democrat in the last few years.  He’s fairly moderate but doesn’t seem to be the strongest of candidates.  Especially, since opponents could potentially portray O’Halleran as changing his party as being a flip-flopper or someone changing his party out of political expediency.  But in the Republican primary, the Republican supporters decided to choose Paul Babeu with 30.8% of the vote in a crowded primary field.  Babeu is a controversial figure in politics.  He is a gay sheriff who tried to portray himself as tough on immigration, only he had a relationship with an undocumented immigrant whom he threatened to report to immigration services if word got out. I wrote more about Babeu previously.  In a typical election, the Republican candidate would probably be a slight favorite but I am having a a hard time believing that Babeu will win on November 8th.  But because of my slight obsession with this race, I have to watch how this race turns out.
  4. U.S. Senate Election: As I mentioned above, Ann Kirkpatrick is running for Senate.  She is running against the original Arizona maverick, John McCain.  McCain is runing for re-election in what is probably going to be his election he can stand for. Looking at the polls from Huffington Post Pollster is showing that McCain is doing better than I originally thought.  McCain has had a few gaffes including saying that he and all Republicans will be “united against any Supreme court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.”  Depending on your political persuasion, that was either a gaffe, the truth, or just what you wanted to hear.  McCain has tried to walk a tight rope on whether or not he is supporting Donald Trump and has eventually walked back his original support. McCain will still have a tough challenge in two weeks when Arizonans go to the ballot box to cast their vote.  Kirkpatrick is fairly moderate and is trying to run on her apparent youth and being in touch with Arizonans against McCain.  I think McCain is still a slight favorite in the state but more stumbles from McCain could let Kirkpatrick make up just enough ground to make it more interesting.  Since Arizona might tip the Senate balance one way or the other, it’s going to be very important for the country.
  5. Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District: This was another of the Congressional races that I was slightly obsessed with.  Ron Barber (D) was elected in 2012 by less than 3,000 votes.  In 2014, which became one of the most expensive races in the country, Martha McSally (R) was able to pull the upset over Barber by less than 200 votes.  McSally is more of a moderate Republican than the typical Republican currently in Congress.  I wrote more about the district here including effusive praise for State lawmaker Victoria Steele.  Steele lost the Democratic primary to Matt Heinz.  I’ve not done enough research on Heinz especially compared to Steele but Heinz appears to be running as more and more of a progressive in the district.  This district is slightly more left-leaning than the rest of the state.  Mitt Romney won the district with 49.9% of the vote compared to 48.4% of the vote for Barack Obama.  If Heinz is able to continue to run a strong campaign in the district, he may be able to win election.  Based on the limited polling I’ve seen for the district, it seems unlikely he will be able to.  What this means then, is that McSally is able to outperform Trump in the district by a significant margin (in all likelihood).  This should be a close race based on Presidential performances but will really fall to whoever had the stronger campaign.
  6. Bonus thing to watch out for is Proposition 206.  This proposition would increase the minimum wage to $10/hour in Arizona in 2017 and then it would be raised to $12/hour by 2020.  But what’s even better, in my opinion is that the proposition would guarantee 40 hours of paid sick time to employees of businesses with 15 or more employees.  This is significantly better legislation and more important legislation than the marijuana initiative, just for the paid sick time alone.  But this would also increase the minimum wage.  The polls that I’ve looked at show that this proposition is going to pass.  If you’re just a casual observer of politics, this is the proposition I would rather watch than the marijuana proposition.  But I know, I know, people have their own issues.