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Flipping Arizona: Can Clinton carry the state?

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Rogue Columnist

Flipping Arizona: Can Clinton carry the state?

  •  Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix on March 21.
    Gage Skidmore/Flickr Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix on March 21.

The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll has Hillary Clinton within one point of Donald Trump in Arizona. You read that right. This is in line with a polling average from Real Clear Politics, which even had Clinton slightly ahead during and after both parties' conventions.

Is it possible that Hillary could flip Arizona to the Democrats? After all, her husband won the state in 1996. I am skeptical.

Bill Clinton won in a very different Arizona. The state was still competitive for Democrats and "experts" predicted that continued population growth would favor the party. Arizona's population expanded by 40 percent in that decade, but it was the "big sort," where people came seeking ideological co-religionists. It was almost entirely on the right. With the exception of the surprise election of St. Janet in 2002 and hopes for her "sensible center," Arizona politics trended ever more rightward. Today not a single statewide office is held by a Democrat.

From the 1980s on, Republicans patiently took control of school boards, municipal offices, tightened their control of the Legislature and Corporation Commission, built a massive infrastructure including fake "think tanks," the charter school racket, private prison racket, and the aid of the Real Estate Industrial Complex. The Democrats never knew what hit 'em. The best Napolitano could do was play defense.

In our Cold Civil War, with the nation more divided than any time since the eve of the Civil War, Arizona sits comfortably in the New Confederacy. I can still start a fight on Facebook by praising light rail (WBIYB).

I'm suspicious of the polling. Never forget the Bradley Effect, only this time applied to Trump. Here is a candidate who is so conspicuously unqualified and leaving behind a trail of offensive pronouncements. Many Trump voters would likely tell a pollster that they are undecided or plan to vote for Hillary Clinton. But when "democracy's sacred curtain" is pulled behind them, they will vote for the Republican.

This is Trump Country. The old, angry Anglos who actually vote are in sync with the real-estate developer. White supremacy? Check. Denial of mainstream science on climate change? Check. Tax cuts? Screwing younger people out their Social Security? Taking away women's choice? Check, check, check. And, especially for those who loved SB 1070 and want Des Moines In The Desert, the wall that Mexico will pay for is electoral ambrosia. The advances for LGBTQI individuals that are celebrated in central Phoenix quietly energize the opposition everywhere from "Better Call Sal's" Phoenix City Council district to the white-right apartheid suburbs and exurbs.

Wealthy Republican John Sydney McCain III knows the score. Despite the most vile insults against McCain's war record, the senator is supporting Trump. He knows the people who actually vote want Trump and he's up for re-election. Sen. Jeff Flake, who's not, has acquitted himself better. But does anyone think the LDS will sit out this presidential election or vote for Hillary?

The holy grail for Democrats and national policy analysts is the Hispanic vote. As of last year, the state was nearly 31 percent Latino and 56 percent Anglo. The first number has risen since 2010 while the latter has fallen. Yet the enduring truth through every election cycle is that the right-wing Anglos vote and "the Mexicans" don't. Voter suppression is real, but the apathy on the part of Hispanic voters is the bigger problem.

The national media give Trump a pass on so many issues, his lack of tax disclosure being only one of the most egregious. Debate moderators have made it clear that it's not their jobs to call out lies. Meanwhile, any rumor, misstep, or having walking pneumonia (and the boogie woogie flu) by Hillary is blown into scoops of vast new scandals.

I still think Trump could win, and this nation will face a future that is dangerous beyond imagining. But even if Hillary wins and the Democrats don't take control of at least one house of Congress, the push for impeachment will begin almost immediately. Arizona used to have some streaks of independence. But that was then. On election day, I suspect it will be as securely red as Kansas.

I want to be wrong.

This column first appeared on Rogue Columnist.

Jon Talton is a fourth-generation Arizonan who runs the blog Rogue Columnist. He is a former op-ed and business columnist of the Arizona Republic, and retired as the economics columnist of the Seattle Times in 2019. Talton is also the author of 12 novels, including the David Mapstone Mysteries, which are set in Arizona.

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