The Millennial Agora continues our complete preview of the upcoming midterm elections for Congress with the state of Arizona. A state of over 7 million people, Arizona has been a traditionally Republican state, but has become increasingly “purple” over the past years, mostly due to the high immigrant population, as well as a high influx of former residents of deep blue West Coast states moving to Arizona. In 2020, President Joe Biden managed to win the state by 0.4% (or around 500 votes), becoming the first Democrat to win the state since Bill Clinton in 1996. The state of Arizona is dominated by the Phoenix metropolitan area, the fifth largest city in the entire country. The metropolitan area around Phoenix, which includes the large suburbs of Chandler, Glendale, Mesa, and Scottsdale, has a population of nearly five million people and represents around 65% of the population of the entire state. The political makeup of the state is unique among large cities. Although the downtown areas of Phoenix are quite liberal, the surrounding suburbs tend to be more conservative than most other suburban areas in the United States. A majority of Republican support comes from these suburban areas as well as the rural areas outside of Phoenix, while most of the Democratic support comes from the city of Phoenix itself, the college town of Tuscon, and the high Native American population centered around the Navajo and Yuvapai tribes in the state’s north. In 2022, there will be elections in Arizona for the House of Representatives, Senate, and Governor of the state. Arizona has nine seats in the House of Representatives and this number remained unchanged after redistricting in 2020 to reflect changes in the United States’ population, however many of the districts were redrawn, meaning that some incumbents have been switched into different districts. Currently five seats are occupied by Democrats, and four are occupied by Republicans. Being a high population state that is almost split equally among party lines, the House and Senate races in Arizona can have a significant impact on the overall makeup of Congress.
House of Representatives
Arizona receives nine seats in the House of Representatives and all seats will be up for election in November. The overall CVPI for the entire state is R+2, making Arizona’s House races (taken as a whole) to be tossups, with an extremely slight advantage for Republicans. (The CPVI, or Cook Partisan Voting Index, is the main metric to measure the strength of a political party for a particular House district or Senate seat. The measure was created and managed by the non-partisan Cook Political Report and uses historical data, as well as polling, to create the “partisan lean” of each district or state. A CPVI rating of R+15 would mean that on average, Republican candidates win elections in that district or state by an average of 15%, while a rating of D+15 would mean the same thing, but for the Democratic candidate. A district or state with a CPVI with double digits is considered to be non-competitive).
A. Current Representative: David Schweikert (R)
B. Population Distribution: Largely Urban
C. Demographics: 70% White, 16% Hispanic, 6% Asian
D. Cook PVI: R+2 (Tossup)
E. Outlook: Arizona’s new first Congressional District features mostly the northern suburbs of Phoenix, including the large suburb of Scottsdale. The district is overwhelmingly urban and features a large minority of Hispanic voters. The new Arizona first largely mirrors the old Arizona sixth district, but the district lost its few rural areas north or Phoenix, and so has become more competitive for Democrats, moving from R+5 to R+2. The district is currently represented by David Schweikert, who has held the seat since 2011. Rep., Schweikert faced strong Republican competition in the primary elections, but was able to secure his spot in the general elections. Running against him is Jevin Hodge, the Vice Chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party. The race in the Arizona first has become one of the key ones for the Democrats and Republicans, due to its categorization as a tossup by some media outlets. The district, which was redrawn after 2020, has become more and more competitive over the years, with Rep. Schwerikert seeing his vote share in the district dwindle from over 60% to just 52% in 2020. Democrats have long been targeting this district, which has seen a growth in college voters and Hispanic voters, and in a year where Democrats are expected to do better than many believed possible at the beginning of the year, I believe that Rep. Schweikert faces the toughest challenge to his seat in years.
F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (GAIN)
II. AZ-02: A. Current Representative: Tom O’Halleran (D) B. Population Distribution: Majority Rural, Minority Suburban C. Demographics: 55% White, 22% Native American, 17% Hispanic D. Cook PVI: R+6 (Leans Republican) E. Outlook: Arizona’s second congressional district is in many ways a microcosm of the entire state. An exceptionally large district, spanning more than 55,000 square miles (152,000 square kilometers), the Arizona first district is slightly smaller than the US state of Georgia and includes almost all of the eastern half of the state. Encompassing the entirety of the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, the Grand Canyon, the university and tourist cities of Flagstaff and Sedona, as well as the far southern suburbs of Phoenix, the Arizona first represents the broad demographic landscape of the entire state within its borders. Because of this, the district has become extremely competitive over the past election cycles. The district supported Donald Trump in 2016 by 1%, but flipped to Joe Biden in 2020, who won the district by 2%. Incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly was able to win the district in 2020 as well, and his 4% margin of victory represented an overall swing of 7% towards the Democrats from 2016. Interestingly, incumbent Representative Tom O’Halleran has seen his vote share decrease in the district since taking over the seat in 2016. In that election, he won the district by more than 7%, but in 2020 only won the Arizona first by 3%. Unfortunately for Rep. O’Halleran, redistricting in 2020 made his district much more conservative, mostly by eliminating much of the suburbs of Phoenix from his district. This decrease in popularity, combined with the redistricting of the district, has made the race in the Arizona second a key prize for Republicans. Rep. O’Halleran’s steady decrease in support may be due to his own political centrism. A former Republican, O’Halleran has taken conventional Democratic positions, such as voting to impeach Donald Trump and becoming a popular advocate for expanded use of wind and solar energy, while also taking more conservative stances on issues such as immigration and abortion. Despite this, Rep. O’Halleran has become a firm ally of President Joe Biden, voting on his initiatives 100% of the time since the President’s term began. His opponent in the race is Eli Crane, a former NAVY Seal and Trump-endorsed Republican who has been polling well in the district. Polling has been becoming more favorable for the Democrats in this race over the summer, a trend seen nationally as well, but most polls still show Rep. O’Hallaren losing by around 2%. There are simply too many factors working against Rep. O’Halleran in this race and a Republican flip of the Arizona second seems almost inevitable. A Democratic hold in this district, would however, symbolize an extremely strong night for Democrats around the country. F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (GAIN)
III. AZ-03: A. Current Representative: Ruben Gallego (D) B. Population Distribution: Overwhelmingly Urban C. Demographics: 63% Hispanic, 20% White, 11% African American D. Cook PVI: D+24 (Strong Democratic) E. Outlook: By far the most Democratic district in the state, the Arizona third features almost the entirety of the downtown Phoenix area, the fifth largest city in the country. A minority-majority district, the Arizona third district is one of the few Arizona House districts which will not provide any drama on Election Night. Incumbent Rep. Gallego is a former Marine who has been in the seat since 2015 and has never received less than 70% of the vote in any of his elections for the House. F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)
IV. AZ-04: A. Current Representative: Greg Stanton (D) B. Population Distribution: Overwhelmingly Urban C. Demographics: 55% White, 27% Hispanic, 7% Asian D. Cook PVI: D+2 (Tossup) E. Outlook: The Arizona fourth includes many of the largest suburbs of Phoenix, including Tempe, Mesa, and Chandler. The district has seen rapid growth and rapid demographic changes over the years, and has turned from a once solid Republican base to a light blue district. The district was created after redistricting in 2020, but would have voted for Joe Biden by 11% if it was created at the time. Current Representative Greg Stanton was first elected to his seat in 2018, and won reelection in 2020 by over 23% in a district which was similar to the current Arizona fourth. His opponent in this race, Republican Kelly Cooper, a former Marine and Tea Party-endorsed candidate has been steadily trailing behind Rep. Stanton in polls, but there are many undecided voters still left in the district. In a year in which undecided voters and independents are predicted to break more for Democrats, this gives yet another advantage to Rep. Stanton. A hold in the Arizona fourth would be key for Democrats’ hopes to hold on to the House. F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)
V. AZ-05: A. Current Representative: Andy Biggs (R) B. Population Distribution: Mostly Rural, Some Suburban/Exurban C. Demographics: 67% White, 18% Hispanic, 7% Asian D. Cook PVI: R+11 (Strong Republican) E. Outlook: The Arizona fifth district includes the far eastern suburbs of Phoenix, including Mesa and Gilbert, and many of the rural areas in the southeast of the state. The district was made slightly smaller by redistricting, but this did not significantly change its partisan lean. The district is currently represented by Andy Biggs, Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and one of the most conservative members of the House. Over the past year, Rep. Biggs has questioned the outcome of the 2020 Presidential Election, has claimed widespread voter fraud in Arizona, voted against military aid to Ukraine and was one of only a handful of Representatives to vote against the accession of Sweden and Finland to join NATO. Rep. Biggs has, along with his House colleague Rep. Paul Gosar, largely become a symbol of a changing Arizona Republican Party which has become more closely affiliated with far-right thought leaders. Within his district, Rep. Biggs remains very popular and has been polling extremely well. In their respective party primaries, Rep. Biggs received nearly 50,000 more votes than his Democratic opponent did in his primary, showing the extreme political lean of the district. It would take a blue tsunami, not just a wave, to make the Arizona 5th competitive and this year is not that year. A strong showing for Rep. Biggs is once again ensured. F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)
VI. AZ-06: A. Current Representative: Ann Kirkpatrick (D) B. Population Distribution: Overwhelmingly Rural, some Suburban C. Demographics: 63% White, 25% Hispanic, 4% African American, 4% Asian D. Cook PVI: R+3 (Tossup) E. Outlook: The Arizona sixth district includes the southeastern part of the state and the eastern half of the college town of Tuscon. The incumbent Rep. Kirkpatrick is not running for reelection. The Democrat trying to hold on to her seat is Kirsten Engel, who has been in the Arizona State Congress for four years. Engel has received endorsements from many national Democratic figures and organizations which has helped her to remain on par with her Republican opponent when it comes to fundraising. Her Republican opponent in the race is Juan Ciscomani, senior advisor to Governor Doug Ducey and a candidate who was handpicked by Washington-based Republicans to try and win the district. Engel has been leading by extremely slight margins in polling and if this district was around for the Presidential Election in 2020, the two Presidential candidates would have finished in a tie. Models of the race have been tightening a bit, but in a majority rural and white district in a Republican year, the momentum seems to be on the side of Ciscomani, handing the Republicans a much needed gain. F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (GAIN)
VII. AZ-07: A. Current Representative: Raúl Grijalva (D) B. Population Distribution: Majority Rural, Some Urban C. Demographics: 60% Hispanic, 28% White, 4% African American, 4% Native American D. Cook PVI: D+15 (Solid Democratic) E. Outlook: The Arizona seventh district includes the entirety of the southern border with Mexico, as well as the western part of Tuscon and the small city of Yuma. The district was slightly modified in redistricting, but this process just made it more uncompetitive and stronger for the Democrats. Rep. Grijalva has been in this seat since 2003 and received almost three times as many votes in the Democratic primary as his Republican challenger, Uruguayan immigrant Luis Pozzolo, did in his party’s primary. Since 2016, Rep. Grijalva has not received less than 60% of the vote, and even ran unopposed in 2016. A deep blue district with a popular candidate, the Arizona seventh is a sure Democratic hold. F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)
VIII. AZ-08: A. Current Representative: Debbie Lasko (R) B. Population Distribution: Suburban and Rural Split C. Demographics: 64% White, 21% Hispanic, 6% Asian D. Cook PVI: R+10 (Strong Republican) E. Outlook: The Arizona eighth district includes the northwestern suburbs of Phoenix and the rural areas to the city’s north. Republican incumbent Debbie Lasko is running unopposed. F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)
IX. AZ-09: A. Current Representative: Paul Gosar (R) B. Population Distribution: High Majority Rural, Some Suburban C. Demographics: 57% White, 30% Hispanic, 5% African American D. Cook PVI: R+16 (Strong Republican) E. Outlook: Another massive district, the Arizona ninth includes the entire western third of the state as well as the western suburbs of Phoenix and the city of Lake Havasu City. Incumbent Paul Gosar, a controversial figure for this association with far-right and antisemitic organizations, is running unopposed. F. Millennial Agora Prediction: Republican Victory (HOLD)
As with every other state, Arizona has two seats in the Senate, with one of these seats being up for election in 2022. The race for Senate in Arizona has been one of the most tightly watched races in the country, with every seat mattering in the Senate elections. The current incumbent is Democrat Mark Kelly, a former NASA astronaut and husband to former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot and nearly killed in an assassination attempt during a mass shooting in Tuscon in 2011. Sen. Kelly has been in the Senate seat since 2020 and represented a Democratic gain from former Senator Martha McSally. Sen. Kelly is now running against Republican challenger Blake Masters, a venture capitalist and former President of the Thiel Federation, a charitable trust set up by billionaire Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal. Mr. Thiel has been a key donor for the Masters campaign. Masters has received endorsements from many top Republicans, including former President Trump, but has come under fire for his controversial comments and perceived flip-flopping on topics such as abortion, a key issue in 2022. The senate seat in Arizona was supposed to be a comfortable victory for the Democrats, seeing as the state is turning bluer and Sen. Kelly was an extremely popular candidate in 2020. But Sen. Kelly has failed to recapture the same magic of his initial campaign and Masters has the money and the influence to give him a real challenge. In April, Sen. Kelly enjoyed a 10 point polling lead over Masters; that number is now down to 2 points. Although nearly all polls, even ones from the Masters campaign, show Kelly with a lead, the margin is small and a significant group of undecided voters, perhaps as high as 7%, is going to make the difference in the race. The state as a whole as a CPVI of R+2, a difference which goes away when the polling in favor of Kelly is considered. The Senate race in Arizona may be so close, that it is not decided on Election Night, and like every statewide election in Arizona, will come down to the vote in the Phoenix suburbs, especially Independent voters who are breaking more for Democrats. Sen. Kelly should hang on to his seat, but many Democrats will be sweating along the way.
Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (HOLD)
The third and final race in Arizona is for Governor of the state. Not to be outdone by the Senate race, the election for Governor in Arizona may be even more close than the Senate race and features one of the most controversial candidates in the entire country. Incumbent Republican Governor Doug Ducey is ineligible to run for a third term due to term limits, so two new candidates will try and take over the Governor’s House in Phoenix. For the Democrats, Katie Hobbs, the current Arizona Secretary of State, won her primary with a blowout over her competitors and has been a strong candidate throughout the election process. She will try to improve on Democrats fortunes in gubernatorial elections. In the last election in 2018, Gov. Ducey won by nearly 15%, and swept the entire Phoenix metro area. Her opponent for the Governorship is Kari Lake, a former TV News anchor in Arizona who is running for her first political position. Lake, who was an outspoken supporter of Barack Obama during his term as President, has become a darling of the Trump wing of the Republican Party. Her unabashed election denialism and strong support for overturning election results has helped her fundraising numbers increase month after month, an increase which has coincided with an increase in her polling averages. In June, Hobbs was holding a 6% lead over Lake in the polls; that number is now an exact tie. Lake’s brand of politics is certainly not meant to attract independent voters, but she has been able to garner support from Hispanic voters who are weary of Democratic legislation. Meanwhile, Hobbs has portrayed the race as a race for the stability of democracy in Arizona, with the Governor having far-reaching powers for local and state politics and how elections function in the state. Lake has been able to coalesce a powerful coalition behind her, but like many other elections around the country, her ideas will dismay some Independents and left-leaning conservatives. Most polling sees Hobbs as being the close winner and I happen to agree with them.
Millennial Agora Prediction: Democratic Victory (GAIN)
The Millennial Agora is predicting that the House races in Arizona will lead to three changes, two Republican gains and one Democratic gain for a net positive gain of one for Republicans. This would mean that Republicans would need five more seats from around the country to take control of the House. We predict that the Senate will remain in Democratic hands, while the Governorship will flip to Democratic control.
Thank you for reading our preview of the midterm elections in Arizona. Check back tomorrow as we go to the Deep South and deep red state of Arkansas.