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Blue state or blue sky? Arizona Democrats hopeful for fall elections

PHILADELPHIA – Fresh off the history-making nomination of Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential nominee for a major U.S. party, Arizona Democrats said they think the historically Republican state could turn blue – or at least purple – this fall.

“I think that Arizona is ready for a big transition back to the Democrats,” said Flagstaff resident Patrice Horstman, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention here. “It was (Bill) Clinton that turned the state blue and now it’s going to be Hillary Clinton that’s going to turn it blue again.”

Political experts didn’t say it couldn’t happen, but they were not as optimistic as the state’s Democrats.

Kyle Kondik, an analyst for the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said a Democratic turn in Arizona is highly unlikely.

“Arizona has a fairly long history of voting a little more Republican than the national average, that goes back several decades,” Kondik said. “There are some signs that Arizona has a growing Hispanic population, and non-white voters are more Democratic than white voters, and so as that group grows Arizona could hypothetically become more Democratic.

“But, there hasn’t been a lot of signs in recent election results that the state is truly trending Democratic,” he said.

But Nathan Gonzales, a political analyst with the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report, was not as dismissive. He said that “with Donald Trump we have to open our mind to the possibility that many states are in the play” to go blue.

“I think it’s up to Democrats to prove Arizona is ready to go Democratic after years of going Republican,” Gonzales said. “Demographically, Arizona seems to be trending Democratic, but it’s starting from a Republican position.”

The latest voter registration numbers from the Arizona Secretary of State’s office showed GOP voters still outnumber Democrats, with 1.2 million registered Republicans to 990,417 Democrats.

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