Arizona 2020 election results: could Trump still win?

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Our Foreign Staff
·3 min read
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Supporters of Donald Trump watch the television to see the numbers coming in at the Cochise County Republican Headquarters in Sierra Vista, Arizona  - AFP
Supporters of Donald Trump watch the television to see the numbers coming in at the Cochise County Republican Headquarters in Sierra Vista, Arizona - AFP

Joe Biden was projected by AP to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state of Arizona since 1996, in a pivotal election result that could set him on the path to victory in the "blue wall" states. 

The Grand Canyon state is traditionally Republican, but when Associated Press called the state for Mr Biden (with 84 per cent of the vote counted) he was tracking at 51 per cent of the vote compared with Mr Trump's 47.6 per cent.

In the race for the United States Senate in Arizona, former astronaut and Democrat Mark Kelly beat the incumbent senator Republican Martha McSally.

Ms McSally a former fighter pilot, lost a 2018 Senate election but was appointed to fill Senator John McCain’s seat. 

When will we know who has won the US election?

Demographic changes

Results in Arizona hinged on Maricopa County, the fourth most-populous county in the nation with 4.5 million residents, including 1.4 million Hispanics.

The county voted narrowly for Donald Trump in 2016. But its demographics and politics have shifted in the past four years. Mr Biden was leading Mr Trump 49 per cent to 47 per cent in Arizona in a Reuters Ipsos poll conducted on October 27-Nov 1.

Arizona’s 11 electoral votes could be key to Mr Biden’s path to victory, and Democratic strategists hoped a higher Latino turnout would help shift the state in his favour.

Early voting

Maricopans participated in early voting in record numbers. Before Monday, the county had processed 1.66 million ballots, surpassing the 1.6 million total cast in the 2016 election, said Megan Gilbertson, communications director for the Maricopa County Elections Department.

While Maricopa gave most of its votes to Mr Trump in 2016, it ejected Republican Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an immigration hardliner whom Mr Trump pardoned for ignoring a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos. The county has since helped elect people like Krysten Sinema, the first Democratic Arizona senator in three decades, to national office.

What issues were at play?

Arizona’s historically harsh treatment of immigrants and passage of legislation like SB1070, a 2010 law that codified several anti-immigrant measures, fostered strong community organising roots that activists hoped would pay off in this election.

Arizona appears to also have voted to legalise cannabis, joining other western states such as California.

While Arizonans await more decisive numbers in national races - and with some still waiting in line - AP has called the state's marijuana referendum for Yes.

The new law would set up a licensing system for legal weed vendors, allowing sales as soon as March. Those convicted under the old laws would be given the chance to expunge their records.

When is the result called?

Results from some races are not known yet, due to this year's unprecedented volume of mail-in ballots and possible runoff elections in four races.

Fox News projected Mr Biden would win Arizona early on Wednesday morning, angering some Republican party members. 

But the Associated Press called the result when they decided that the other candidate, Mr Trump, had no path to victory. This can happen before 100 per cent of votes in a state have been counted.

Delayed results could still occur in Maine, where Democrats are strongly favoured to flip Republican seats.