Within Arizona, voting habits have taken a dramatic shift from historical trends. Voters in the historically Republican-dominated state have started to lean in the opposite direction, turning Arizona into an electoral swing state.
Swing states, also referred to as battleground states, occur when the population of voters are more likely to have a disparity in partisanality.
Rather than predominantly voting solely Republican or Democrat, these states often have closer races where either party can narrowly find victory.
The narrow margins for political races in swing-states tend to lead to more competition, and candidates may direct the focus of their campaign efforts more towards these states to secure votes.
Arizona’s development as a battleground state has become a recent change for the state’s voting record.
Over the last 12 presidential election cycles, Arizona has chosen Democratic candidates only twice; once in 1996 with the election of Bill Clinton, and again in 2020 with Joe Biden.
Other important battleground states included Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Within the state’s popular vote for the election, the race between both parties was even closer.
The Biden/Harris campaign received 49.4% of the vote, while Trump/Pence collected 49.1%, a difference of only 10,457 votes.
For the 2022 midterm elections, Arizona will once again play a key part in the election of either Democrat or Republican candidates to both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Arizona currently has nine seats up for election in the House, while the senate has one.
The senate race will determine whether Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly retains his seat against Republican Blake Masters.
Analysts with Politico predict that Kelly has a slight edge over his Trump-endorsed opponent, though the race remains competitive.
“Given Arizona’s competitive nature, our bet is on Masters closing the gap and making the race a toss-up – but that isn’t a sure thing,” stated Steve Shepard, chief Politico election reporter.
The House of Representatives’ seats in the state also remain competitive, though they sway more in favor of Republican candidates. Among these seats, Politico predicts that only three will be won by Democrats, with the other six earned by Republicans.
Arizona’s federal races are not the only toss-ups however.
At the state level, Arizona’s governor race continues to be a deadlock between candidates Kari Lake and Katie Hobbs.
Lake, however, retains a slight edge according to the Marist Poll, an independent survey research center based out of Marist College in New York.
As Arizona’s political landscape continues to shift towards the center of the political spectrum, candidates on both sides of the aisle will need to work even harder to sway undecided voters towards their cause.
Beyond the 2022 midterm elections, presidential candidates seeking election in 2024 will need to start their Arizona campaigns earlier in the election cycle to garner the support of the Electoral College and the popular vote.