In Arizona, history and voter registration data gives GOP edge
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If you watched the sixth game of the World Series from Arizona on Tuesday night (Go Cubbies), you would have thought that you were in battleground Ohio with less than a week before Election Day. 
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Between Oct. 29 and Nov. 8, both of the presidential candidates, as well as their VP picks, will have visited a state where Republicans have won nine of the last 10 presidential elections. This kind of spotlight is unprecedented for deep-red Arizona, but so is the ambivalence of the state’s likely voters, and the polls prove it.  

Track polling over the last five weeks has shown the presidential candidates’ popularity ebbs and flows with who has had the most negative attention nationally. After the infamous “Access Hollywood” video leak, Trump hit his lowest point with Arizona voters, translating into a statistical tie between him and Clinton for a solid week and a half.

The most recent poll from my organization, Data Orbital, ran just after the FBI announced it was reopening the investigation surrounding Clinton's private email server and, in parallel to that negative national press, Trump gained a 4 percentage point lead in Arizona. He saw a similar trend in other battleground states.

With this much variability in the polling, candidates lower on the ticket are gritting their teeth and waiting to see how ambivalence at the top of the ticket translates in their race.

In Arizona, the race for U.S. Senate has been one of the only contests with consistent trends and Senator John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Senate Armed Services chair eyes Russia, China threats | Pushes Trump not to cut defense budget | Mattis says US looking for more Khashoggi evidence Dem strategist says Trump should not have attended George H.W. Bush's funeral Inhofe eyes Russian, Chinese threats in first major speech as Armed Services chairman MORE may be the reason that the Republican ship stays afloat in the state. In track polling going back months, he has always been above Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickHispanic Caucus sets red lines on DHS spending bill Dem women rally behind Pelosi Arizona New Members 2019 MORE who has been an anchor to statewide Democrats, never breaching 42 percent in any public poll.

McCain has always polled around 5-7 percent above Trump and in this last iteration, saw a 10 percent lead on Kirkpatrick. Even those Republicans, who cannot be moved to vote for the party’s presidential candidate, will turn out to vote for the senior senator.

Arizona pollsThere has been a lot of talk about Arizona turning purple, but this election cycle has proven that while the nominee may cause the state to fluctuate, Arizona is still solidly Republican. Even withholding the hotly contentious election, demographics still favor a Republican victory. Republicans are on pace to have 145,000 plus statewide ballot advantage, and Arizona Independents have historically trended center-right.

If Democrats make any gains in the state in this election, it is likely more indicative of the candidates on the ballot this year than the demographic shifts of the voting population.

Registration before the election saw a huge jump, but the likelihood that those new Democrats and Independents become a large part of Arizona’s likely voting block is very low.

Republicans still maintain 34.5 percent of total registration, compared to Democrats at 30.4 percent and Independents at 34.0 percent, but conservatives make up a much larger percentage of voters that actually turn out.

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It is true nationwide, but particularly in Arizona, that as the voting population transitions to being more diverse and majority-Gen X and majority-Millennial, narrative and outreach is going to have to change. The focus in Arizona is on outreach to the Latino community, and the burden is on the state’s Republican party to win them over with the enduring messages of individual liberty and preservation of freedom.

In contrast to the press surrounding Republican outreach, or lack thereof, to the Latino community, the current state chairman for the Arizona Republican Party, Robert Graham, has spent his tenure in office focusing on building those relationships and for the first time ever has a victory office in Nogales, Ariz., a town just off of the border of Mexico.

Elections to come will be telling, but the conservative voting base is not likely to lose strength in Arizona. Republican registration in the state passed Independent registration before the August primary a few months back and Republicans still maintain majority in both chambers of the state Legislature.

In this imminent election, even withstanding the abnormal amount of presidential candidate controversy, the trends of elections before are holding true. In Arizona, Republicans will out perform registration whereas Democrats will continue to underperform. Projections show Republicans coming in with a 9 percent statewide advantage, likely electing another Republican presidential nominee, and an almost assured 6th term for Senator John McCain.

Khalaf is a Republican strategist and pollster at Data Orbital, based out of Phoenix, Ariz. He is the former political director for the AZ GOP.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.