The biggest fights of the 2024 election are all converging in Arizona
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2024 election-The biggest fights are all converging in Arizona

2024 election-The battles over control of Washington, abortion policy and more are all on the ballot in one of the country’s most tightly divided swing states.

Tuesday’s Arizona Supreme Court ruling upholding a 160-year-old near-total ban on abortion sent a shock through the state and cemented its place at the centre of politics in 2024.

Arizona and its 11 electoral votes will be critical in the race between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Voters will decide critical races for the Senate and the House with both chambers closely divided.

The state looks set to have an abortion measure on the November ballot, putting a stark policy choice directly before voters.

All of that will be happening amid year’s long fights over election procedures and immigration that are still running hot. And the state’s rapidly changing demographics highlight many of the major trends buffeting U.S. politics.

Arizona has the largest Latino population share of any core battleground state, according to the Census Bureau; the country’s biggest battleground county is Maricopa County, a former Republican stronghold where more than 2 million people voted in 2020 and Biden narrowly won; increasingly MAGA-field rural counties are racing in the other direction; and the nation’s biggest university by in-person enrolment is Arizona State University.

In short, Arizona will show how different groups are grappling with the most pressing issues in the election and it could decide the balance of power in Washington next year and beyond.

The presidential campaign there was decided by just 10,000 votes in 2020, and Biden’s and Trump’s campaigns already have their eyes on the state: Vice President Kamala Harris announced a trip to Arizona on Friday hours after the state Supreme Court issued its abortion decision.

“You understand how important that majority is in the U.S. Senate, right?” Republican Kari Lake asked the crowd at a rally last month in Cave Creek.

“We want President Trump to hit the ground running in January of ’25,” she continued, casting her campaign as the one that could tip the balance.

In a fundraising email Tuesday afternoon, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego laid out the stakes for the Senate race just as clearly.

“If Ruben wins Arizona we are that much closer to holding the Senate.

And we need control in the Senate to stop any attempt at a national ban on abortion,” the email read.

2024 election
Arizona is at the center of the political universe

2024 election-The campaigns

The already feisty battle to replace retiring independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema — Gallego’s a “swamp rat,” Lake says; she’s “heartless,” Gallego retorts comes after three straight Democratic Senate victories in Arizona.

A fourth would make it clear just how much the state and the Republican Party have shifted since Arizona sent the likes of GOP Sens.

Barry Goldwater and John McCain to Washington.

With Democrats barely holding onto a slim majority in the Senate and playing defines in states Trump overwhelmingly won in 2020, like Ohio, West Virginia and Montana, the outcome of the Arizona race will have far-reaching repercussions outside the Southwest?

And in the House, Arizona is also capable of shifting the balance of power. Democrats need a net gain of just four seats to take control of the House, and Republicans representing seats Biden carried in 2020 are at the top of their target list.

Two of those Republicans are from Arizona: David Schweikert, whose 1st District includes Phoenix suburbs such as Scottsdale, and Juan Ciscomani, who represents the 6th District in the southeast corner of the state, around Tucson.

Democrats have targeted Schweikert in the past and viewed him as vulnerable after he admitted to multiple ethics violations for misusing campaign funds.

After redistricting in 2022, Schweikert won a seventh term by just 1 percentage point; Biden carried the district by nearly 2 points in 2020, according to calculations from Daily Kos Elections.

Sensing an opportunity, multiple Democrats are competing to take on Schweikert in November, and his opponent won’t be clear until the July 30 primary.

Five Democrats have raised more than $800,000 so far, including former state party chair Andrei Cherny, state Rep. Amish Shah and former TV news anchor Marlene Galan-Woods.

Two more candidates, orthodontist Andrew Horne and investment banker Conor O’Callaghan, have largely self-funded their campaigns.

Ciscomani, who was a top aide to GOP former Gov. Doug Ducey, won his first term by nearly 2 points in 2022.

He could face a rematch against former state Sen. Kirsten Engel, who is running again in the closely divided district, which Biden carried by one-tenth of a percentage point in 2020.

Both Schweikert and Ciscomani condemned the state Supreme Court’s abortion ruling Tuesday, but Democrats were quick to highlight their past support for state action on abortion and their past votes on the issue.

Republicans are also trying to hold state legislative majorities that couldn’t be thinner: a 31-29 advantage in the House and a 16-14 seat advantage in the Senate.

The 'lesser of two evils' voters who could decide 2024
The ‘lesser of two evils’ voters who could decide 2024

The issues

Every one of those candidates is likely to share Arizona’s ballot this fall with a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a “fundamental right” to receive abortion care up until fetal viability, or about the 24th week of pregnancy, with exceptions after that if a health care professional decides it’s needed to “protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual.”

And after the state Supreme Court upheld what’s now one of the strictest bans in the country, the ballot measure could drive an influx of otherwise disengaged young voters to the polls.

The biggest source of them could be the tens of thousands of Arizona State University students in Tempe.

The Biden campaign has already started engaging with youth voting groups on the ground, with second gentleman Doug Emhoff having phone-banked alongside Keep Arizona Blue, a student coalition focused on voter turnout, this week.

It may not be on the ballot in the same way as abortion, but with Arizona sharing the most border area with Mexico of any state besides Texas, immigration isn’t an abstract issue for state voters.

Recent News polling found Trump with a huge lead over Biden when it comes to which candidate voters believe is better suited to control immigration, which could provide a boost down the ballot for Republicans.

But Arizona’s rapidly shifting demographics could also play a key role.

If Trump is making further inroads with Latino voters this year, as he did in 2020, Arizona may be the battleground state that will feel it most.

The NALEO Education Fund projected close to one-quarter of the Arizona electorate in 2024 will be Latino.

As the population changes, so do the voting patterns. Maricopa County, which takes in metro Phoenix and includes about 60% of the state’s voters, backed McCain and Mitt Romney in their presidential bids over Barack Obama by double digits.

In 2016, Trump won the county by just a 3.4-point margin, and he haemorrhaged support four years later, losing the pivotal county even more narrowly to Biden in 2020.

Arizona has also been a hotbed for the issue of election denialism for the past four years, and it will once again feature many of the same voices prominently.

They include Lake who made her support of Trump’s unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen a centrepiece of her failed run for governor in 2022 as well as Abraham Hamadeh, the GOP’s 2022 attorney general nominee, who is now running for the U.S. House, and Mark Finchem, the Republican secretary of state candidate in 2022, who is running for the state Senate.

While Lake has largely avoided focusing on election denial in her Senate campaign, Hamadeh, who focused most of his unsuccessful attorney general’s race on false claims about the 2020 election, has maintained his focus on the issue this year.

That campaign decided by just 280 votes underscores the hypercompetitive landscape that will play host to so many pivotal races again this year.

And it punctuates the huge policy differences and consequences at stake in the campaigns.

Just this week, Mayes vowed not to enforce the abortion ban upheld by the state Supreme Court a position she ran on in 2022 that Hamadeh opposed.

2024 election
The biggest fights of the 2024 election are all converging in Arizona



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