In 2008, although then-Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama was a popular nominee who went on to win the presidency, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, his opponent, was still beloved among his constituents and captured his own state. McCain won 54% to 45%, a near inverse of the popular vote nationally.
But recent electoral trends in the state have Republican strategists concerned. The 2018 Senate victory of then-Arizona Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a former Green Party activist — the first in her party to be elected to the Senate since the 1980s — has Republicans reassessing their dominance.
“In 2018 instead of that typical 50% turnout that we’ve seen in the past, it was nearly 65% turnout. So not quite presidential level. But way beyond typical voter turnout,” Bentz said, noting independents in Arizona had participated at significantly higher rates than expected. There’s “a pretty extensive amount of voter interest, particularly among younger voters. Democrats over participated by a point — nearly a point-and-a-half,” Bentz said.
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