May 15, 2019


Why Arizona Is Emerging as Top 2020 Battleground (Josh Kraushaar, May 14, 2019, National Journal)

If there's one development that threatens to disrupt the best laid plans of Republicans, it's the transformation of Arizona from a rock-ribbed GOP stronghold into a bona fide battleground state. In recent years, Republicans have struggled to balance the energy of their activist base with the pragmatism necessary to win over the state's critical mass of suburban independents.

At the same time, Democrats are eyeing Arizona as a critical political prize that could make or break their national ambitions. Win Arizona, and the party could withstand a Rust Belt stumble in Wisconsin. Pick off the state's second Senate seat, and the prospect of an upper-chamber majority becomes more realistic. Hold their 6-3 advantage in the House delegation, and Democrats should feel confident about their ability to maintain control in the lower chamber.

There have been some troubling signs for Arizona Republicans in recent weeks. A statewide poll showed Joe Biden leading Trump by 5 points--with the president failing to hit 50 percent against any of the prospective Democratic challengers (including Bernie Sanders). The same poll found appointed Sen. Martha McSally leading presumptive Democratic nominee Mark Kelly by only 1 point, 45 to 44 percent.

All this is taking place with the state GOP infrastructure in shambles after controversial hard-liner Kelli Ward won the chairmanship in January. Since then, Arizona Republicans have struggled to raise money and maintain a unified front. Ward, as a Senate candidate, alienated the party's moderate wing with deeply personal attacks against former Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake.

"Joe Biden would create a real race here in Arizona," said Arizona-based GOP operative Barrett Marson. "There's substantial dissatisfaction with the president among independents and Republican-leaners."

Posted by at May 15, 2019 4:08 AM