Arizona's Democratic Presidential Preference Election By The Numbers

By Lauren Gilger, Steve Goldstein
Published: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 3:03pm
Updated: Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 8:47am

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Vote sign
Kerry Fehr Snyder/KJZZ
A voting center in Chandler on March 17, 2020.

LAUREN GILGER: Now for a broader look at the turnout numbers in yesterday's primary, let's turn to ABC 15 analyst Garrett Archer. Good morning, Garrett.

GARRETT ARCHER: Good morning, Lauren. How are you?

GILGER: I'm great. Thanks for joining us.

ARCHER: Absolutely.

GILGER: So I want to start with the turnout overall on primary day because we know — sorry, Presidential Preference Election day, I should say. We know that there were a lot of ballots turned in ahead of time. Give us the breakdown on early voting and then who came out to the polls yesterday.

ARCHER: So early voting this year was about 480,000 Democrats. That is a considerably higher number than what we've seen in the past. It's actually, if you compare it to 2016, it's actually more Democrats voted by early ballot — and when I say early ballot, I mean the mail-in early ballot rather than the drop-off — than the entirety of the election in 2016. So it was a large number of Democrats. And that, of course, is mostly accounted for because of the just massive population growth that Arizona has experienced in the last five years.

GILGER: And then yesterday at the polls, were the number is lower in light of coronavirus fears?

ARCHER: I would say that, based on the forecasting that I had put together prior to a lot of the larger news stories surrounding coronavirus if you will, and larger issues, I had expected approximately 60,000 people in Maricopa County to come out to the polls on Election Day, and about ... 45,000 (did). It was a lighter number than we expected, but in in in terms of of everything that went on, I think 45,000 is a very good showing.

STEVE GOLDSTEIN: Garrett, we talked to Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Chucri earlier this morning, and he talked about how happy they were at how smoothly, relatively, the election ran yesterday. When it comes down to it, though, was there a situation ... if we speculate a bit, that turnout was affected in any way by the fact that there was concern they wouldn't be able to clean enough of the polling places and make sure the people were not as afraid of the coronavirus? That there were fewer places to go? Any thought about a potential impact there?

ARCHER: Well, I know that because of 2016, Maricopa County had made sure that this election plan was was going to be servicing sort of an over-capacity of what they were expecting at the polls no matter what. So they had already built in sort of a mechanism to make sure that if X amount of voters showed up, they would be fine. Now, as far as —

GILGER: Garrett are you there? It seems as if we may have lost the connection with ABC 15 analyst Garret Archer. We will return to that interview if we can get him back on the line.

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GILGER: Good morning. It's The Show, and now let's return to our conversation with ABC 15 elections analyst Garrett Archer. Sorry we lost you there, Garrett.

ARCHER: Nope, no problem. Sorry about that.

GILGER: No problem. All right. I want to just ask very quickly then about who handed Biden this victory, which turned out to be quite significant. Double digits.

ARCHER: I think that Arizona's electorate — I know I was kind of listening in while I was sitting on the phone prior and and I heard some conversation about this — but Arizona does have a very demographically diverse electorate, and we do get population, if you will, from from multiple places in the country as people migrate here. And people, you know, the old adage, if you will, that no one's from Arizona, everybody's from somewhere else. So I would say that Biden's victory came out of the elderly population out here of Democrats that I think, you know, we've seen in polling have shown to be more comfortable with Biden. You know, and you see that with, of course, the Michael Bloomberg number. I mean, if you took out Michael Bloomberg and said he wasn't there, our election would attract almost identical to both Florida and Illinois last night. So realistically, I mean, this is a coalition of the sort of mainstream Democrats. We've seen time and time again that Bernie Sanders does have a ceiling. He did do very well with Hispanics out here, as we saw with his better numbers in southern Arizona, if you will. But, yeah, this definitely was a sort of mainstream Democrat, those who just want an electable candidate to go against Donald Trump.

GOLDSTEIN: Garrett, I'm gonna squeeze in one more for you. Turnout, obviously, in every election is vitally important. Any indicators for you based on what happened in yesterday's election, how that might impact the August primaries and November general, in terms of how passionate people are about getting out to the polls?

ARCHER: I think that our August primary here this year is sort of going to be incumbent upon how many, at least for the Democrat performance, how many Democrats get through ... One of the things we saw in '18 was there were Democratic candidates in districts that they had no hope of winning in, which I know that sounds interesting, but that means that there was such a large sort of charge of intensity on their side. So if that continues, I would expect that the August primary will also have at least some intensity depending on the effect from coronavirus. And then November, of course, I know that the Democrats time and time again have shown that there is an intensity against Donald Trump. So I expect that what we saw last night, even with the threat of Corona virus, 45,000 people still showing up in Maricopa (County) to a vote and then another 40,000 dropping off their ballot at the polling place. I would expect that turnout will still remain at record numbers in 2020, in November.

GILGER: All right. ABC 15 analyst Garrett Archer. Thanks so much, Garrett. Thanks for sticking with us.

ARCHER: Absolutely.

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