Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Are Democrats dead in Arizona?

SomeĀ  thoughts on the election results:

If Democrat Ron Barber holds on against Martha McSally, Arizona will have a 5-4 Democrats to Republicans Congressional delegation. That will cause uninformed East Coast pundits and deluded state Democrats to declare Arizona a purple state.


After last week, not a single Democrat holds statewide office and both Senators, who are elected statewide, are Republicans. In the state Legislature, the division of Republicans to Democrats is exactly as planned by redistricting, 17-13 Senate, 34-26 House.

Not one candidate on the short side of voter registration managed to win, which means independent voters, despite their rising numbers, aren’t the almighty decider of elections that conventional wisdom (and me) thought them to be in state races (though they apparently were the decider in the Congressional races. Go figure).

If current registration trends continue, more than 7 out of 10 voters in Arizona won’t be registered Democrats. The chances of the Democrats winning the governorship in 2014 is slim. Their only hope is the recent division in the state Republican party becomes a tear and there are two conservatives running for governor to split the vote (which is how Janet Napolitano got elected).

So consider the Democratic party dead in Arizona. Or at least on life support. Perhaps it’s only chance to return to relevance in state politics is to figure out why independents leaned to the left in the three competitive Congressional races but to the right in the Senate and state races.

Damned if I know, though. I did the reverse. Yours truly is a rock-ribbed ticket splitter (or a squishy, pusillanimous moderate, as my partisan friends consider me) and I leaned right for the federal races and left for the state races.

And wither the Latino voter? Still waiting for them to be a force in Arizona politics. That Arpaio won and Carmona lost shows they’re not even close to being the rising voter tide in Arizona. Maybe next election (though we’ve been saying that for about a decade).

Perhaps their best shot at relevancy is for the Supreme Court this year to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires racial gerrymandering. While that will mean the racially protected Democratic seats in the state and federal legislatures will be eradicated come the next redistricting, it will also mean the disbursement of Latinos into more districts, which, rather than watering down their voting power, will actually give them more power becauseĀ  they’ll be able to influence far more races.

If they are the rising tide, then they’re the Democrats best hope. State Democrats do themselves no favor by insisting that the tide only rise in a couple of small seas rather than in the entire state ocean (to belabor that metaphor).

Search site | Terms of service