This has been a hard column to write. But a necessary one. The November election is less than a month away and the polling is not looking good for Arizona Republicans. With ballots going out this week, the most recent and reliable polling from RealClearpolitics.com shows Biden with 51% of the vote to 45% for Trump. That’s within the margin of error. But at no point in the 2020 election cycle, despite numerous trips to Arizona, has the President been in the lead. I’m an optimist by nature. I’m still hoping President Trump can stave off defeat. But it’s time for a reality check. Voting has started and the polls show Trump behind in Arizona and many swing states.
The picture is no better for federal and state races across the state. As of today, the most recent polling has Senator Martha McSally trailing Mark Kelly by eleven points. This is a continuing downward trend from September. In an effort to do our patriotic duty, eNews asked a well-connected political consultant in Phoenix to reach out to McSally for a podcast. The answer came back that she has cancelled all personal appearances in Northern Arizona for the rest of the campaign. Barring an unexpected bounce for McSally from Tuesday night’s debate, Republicans should hide their guns and prepare to congratulate Senator-elect Mark Kelly.
Many down ticket races also look shaky for Republicans. Incumbent Congressman David Schweikert (R, CD 6) is being outspent by Democrat Dr. Hiral Tiperineni. They are now locked in a tight race in a District where Republicans still hold an advantage among registered voters. A Schweikert loss will turn Arizona’s congressional delegation to a 6 to 3 advantage for Democrats.
A number of once safe Republican state house and senate seats are now in play. They include Wendy Rogers in LD6, Brophy McGee in LD28, and J.D. Mesnard in LD17, where voter registration has been trending away from Republicans in recent years. In LD28, there are 17,000 newly registered voters since the last election. 13,000 of them are Democrats. With the state senate now split 17 to 13 in favor of Republicans, the loss of two of these seats would end Republican control. The loss of all three would put the state senate in Democratic hands for the first time since 2002.
In the state House of Representatives, currently split 31 to 29 in favor of Republicans, the loss of just one seat will end Republican control for the first time in over half a century (1964). Even in districts where Republicans hold a substantial voting advantage, Democrats may capture seats thru single shotting, i.e. running a single candidate for just one of two available seats. This appears to be the strategy in LD1 where the Democrats have fielded a single candidate, Judy Stahl, for one of two open seats in our House delegation. If Democrats and liberal Independents single shot Ms. Stahl, they could propel her into one of the top spots. That might be a reach in LD1. But with Republicans controlling the state legislature by a single vote, the strategy only has to work once anywhere in the state to end Republican control.
How did this happen? How did the Republican establishment in Arizona manage to lose so much so fast? When I moved to Arizona ten years ago Republicans ran the show. In 2010, Arizona Republicans held both US Senate seats, an evenly split Congressional delegation, as well as the Governor’s Office, both chambers of the state legislature and all five Executive Departments, i.e., Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Superintendent of Mines. Here in Yavapai County there were no Democrats in any elected office. But even that is slipping away, with former Democrats who claim to be Independents now turning up on the Prescott Valley Town Council and in other municipalities across the county.
The short answer is that demographic change in Arizona’s voting population made the political transformation of our state inevitable. Decades of high levels of immigration, repeated amnesty for illegal immigrants, and higher birth rates among groups that disproportionately vote Democrat are now baked into the state’s voter rolls. In this year’s election, Whites will cast a little over 60% of the vote. Arizona is not slated to flip to minority majority until 2035. But the Democratic party sees the future more clearly than the Republican establishment. They have successfully transformed themselves into a coalition of white liberals and the growing ranks of people of color. They are poised to win big.
To paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli, all politics is racial. Unlike the Republican party, which is terrified of the race issue, the Democrats understand their base and what fires them up. Their messaging is spot on. They support higher levels of immigration and oppose the Wall. They support Black Lives Matter and Antifa and minority grievances against white cops. They support higher taxes which disproportionately target middle and higher income whites. Prop 208, which places a surtax on high earners is a brilliant social justice play that will drive Democrat turnout. Republicans don’t have a clue how to stop it. President Trump came to power with a unique, America First brand of populism. But Republican elites in Arizona have never embraced that message. In fact, they fear it. Few of them supported Trump before he won the nomination. Some didn’t support him until he won the election. And some have never supported him. Former Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Senator McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, who have publicly endorsed Biden, are but the tip of the iceberg. Deep within the Arizona Republican establishment is resistance to and even contempt for Trump and what he represents. They are globalists and cosmopolitans and wealthy elitists. They don’t like his populism and they don’t identify with the Republican base of white working people, white retirees, and white people of faith with whom that message resonates. They want him to lose, to discredit what he stands for.
This column is the first of a two part series. After the election I’ll be back with a postmortem. But with this column, written as ballots go out in Arizona, I am offering the hard truth of the disappointment we are facing. I hope and pray I am wrong. As a third generation Republican, as a White American who values the culture and heritage of western civilization, and as a person of faith, I know everything is at stake in this election. Our country is slipping away. The elites who control the Republican Party are in denial about the reasons why. For that reason, they are paralyzed to stop it.