TUCSON, Ariz. - The fact that both Presidential campaigns came to Arizona Thursday says a lot about Arizona’s potential power to swing this year’s election.
Arizona’s gone from a state perceived as a lock for one party to a battleground neither party is willing to concede.
The Biden and Trump campaigns are hitting Arizona at the same time, building contacts with their loyalists and trying to pull independents into their camps.
University of Arizona Political Scientist Barbara Norrander says there was a time when Arizona was so reliably Republican campaigns put most of their effort in other states.
“That led to both the Democratic and Republican parties not really campaigning here, not spending a lot of money here, simply because they felt that it was going to go for the Republican candidate. This year it seems to be more competitive. So we're seeing campaigning by both.”
With eleven Electoral College votes, Arizona’s sort of a middle-weight among the states. But the perception that Arizona’s votes could swing either way make Arizona a state no campaign can risk neglecting.
Norrander says, “Some of the bigger states like California or New York are reliably Democratic states and so it doesn't make sense to campaign there so a small number of Electoral College votes could turn the election one way or the other, and 11 isn't that small of a number. “
But Norrander says the political personalities of different parts of Arizona influence where the campaigns go.
Pima County is the second biggest population center but perceived as a Democrat stronghold. Maricopa County has more people, and politicians see signs it could shift from Republican to Democrat so campaigns from both parties are more likely to focus most of their fight there.