State Watch

Why Kari Lake’s path to victory is closing fast

With less than 10 percent of the estimated vote left to count in Arizona’s governor race, Democrat Katie Hobbs leads Republican Kari Lake by 24,772 raw votes as of Monday afternoon — just 1 percentage point.

Lake is expected to further close Hobbs’s lead, but the Republican’s path to victory looks increasingly narrow after recent batches of results.

“Extremely tough to see how Kari Lake (R) wins now,” tweeted The Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman on Sunday evening.

The Arizona secretary of state’s office indicated that roughly 169,500 votes are left to count statewide as of Monday afternoon, meaning Lake would need about 57 percent of remaining ballots to pull off a victory.

The vast majority of the remaining votes will come from Arizona’s three most populous counties: Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix area, Pima County, which includes Tucson and stretches westward, and Pinal County, which includes areas between the two cities.

Maricopa County

Maricopa County — where more than 6 in 10 Arizonans live, according to census estimates — comprises a little more than half of the remaining ballots, with county officials estimating that between 85,000 and 95,000 ballots remain to be reported.

Over the weekend, the nightly batches of new results have trended more in Lake’s favor.

Lake garnered a 9-point lead in Sunday night’s vote drop after a much smaller lead on Saturday. On Friday, Hobbs carried the batch.

But it remains an uphill battle for Lake, as the former television news anchor will likely need even larger margins in the remaining votes to pull off a win.

“No projections in AZGOV, but make no mistake: Lake didn’t get the tallies she wanted and probably needed out of Maricopa,” The New York Times’s Nate Cohn tweeted after after the county released its Sunday batch. 

“It will presumably close further, but Lake doesn’t have many batches left,” Cohn continued. “Each time she falls short, her target in the outstanding vote gets higher.”

The shift is largely a reflection of the order in which officials are counting the ballots.

Bill Gates, the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said at a Saturday press conference that the county uses a “first in, first out” process, meaning officials report the votes in the order they are received at the central facility.

“That’s how we do this. We are not picking them from certain parts of town,” he said.

He indicated that Friday’s batch included the remaining early ballots received before Election Day, and the recent dumps have largely shifted to ballots dropped off on Tuesday. The county received about 275,000 early ballots on Election Day.

Vote centers that dropped off their ballots earlier that evening are counted first, and the central facility is located in downtown Phoenix closer to the county’s heavily blue areas.

Garrett Archer, a prominent analyst of Arizona election results who works for KNXV in Phoenix, noted that Sunday’s batch, which favored Lake, largely came from more Republican areas of Maricopa.

“A large portion came from ruby red southeast valley east of loop 202 as well as vote center in the Anthem area,” he said.

Pima County

Hobbs has consistently made vote gains in the daily batches released by Pima County, a Democratic-leaning area where nearly 39,000 ballots have yet to be reported.

President Biden in 2020 won the county by 19 points, and Hobbs holds a 22-point lead there as of Monday afternoon.

Hobbs in the most recent batches has continued to hold steady leads, although her margin has declined.

On Friday, Hobbs carried the daily batch by 32 points. It declined to 28 points on Saturday and 20 points on Sunday.

Even with a smaller margin than before, however, Hobbs’s double-digit leads have helped boost her vote count.

The county has generally released the results of between 10,000 and 20,000 ballots each day.

Pinal County

Pinal County, which typically favors Republicans, released roughly 3,400 ballots late Monday morning local time. 

Lake won 68 percent of the batch, while Hobbs garnered about 32 percent support — a 36-point gap.

The county has about 9,000 ballots that have yet to be reported, according to the secretary of state’s office.

So while Lake may continue to make ground in the county as those are counted, Pinal’s remaining count will have a far smaller impact on the final result compared to Pima and Maricopa.

Tags 2022 midterms 2022 midterms governors Arizona gubernatorial race Kari Lake Katie Hobbs Katie Hobbs

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