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Californians Moving to Arizona Could Upend 2024 Election

The situation looks set to get even tougher in one of the nation’s most prominent battleground states, as an influx of new residents raises the stakes for a potential presidential bid in 2024.

Interstate migration numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Census show that California migration to Texas is decreasing while migration to Arizona is increasing. Arizona is a state that President Joe Biden ultimately won over former President Donald Trump in 2020 by a margin of about 10,000 votes. .

While a mass exodus from California has been observed in recent years, the pipeline to Arizona was followed by more than 69,000 Californians in 2021 and more than 74,000 Californians in 2022. It shows a unique path. Knowing that California is deep blue, migration patterns raise questions such as: Are the people moving across state lines bringing their liberal ideology to Arizona, or are they leaving their progressive beliefs behind?

“Everything matters in battleground states where the margins are so thin,” said Republican strategist Alex Patton. newsweek. “We don’t have a detailed demographic profile of what Californians are moving to Arizona, but it’s definitely something to look at and message accordingly.”

A truck pulls a trailer on land near Rio Vista, California, on September 15, 2023. More than 74,000 people moved from California to Arizona last year.
John Edelson/AFP

Arizona was the second-closest state in the 2020 election after Georgia. Biden’s victory marks the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has carried the state since former President Bill Clinton in 1992, and the second time since Harry Truman’s victory in 1948.

“Arizona is the ultimate swing state,” said Paul Bentz, senior vice president of research and strategy at Arizona-based public relations firm Highground. newsweek. “This year, the path to the White House is likely to pass through Arizona rather than Ohio or Florida.”

Since the last presidential election, the Democratic Party has made significant gains in Arizona, with Sen. Mark Kelly winning re-election and Katie Hobbs winning the gubernatorial race in the midterm elections. But while these electoral changes suggest that Democrats have made Arizona a more welcoming homeland for left-leaning Californians, it ultimately depends on which former Californians come to the Grand Canyon State. Benz said it will be decided.

“If you look outside of Maricopa County, Yavapai County to the north and Pinal County to the south, both have suburban areas that are growing,” he said. “They’re becoming more and more reddish and more conservative, whereas more metro pieces are becoming more progressive.”

said Republican strategist Matt Klink. newsweek He believes most people moving from California are trying to “escape” liberal policies, but recent Democratic victories make Arizona a unique “outlier” as a destination. He said that there is.

“Arizona Republicans need to focus first and foremost on candidate qualifications and choose candidates who will appeal to a broad range of conservative Arizona voters. It’s a defensive measure,” Klink said.

arizona voting drop box
A driver uses a smartphone to drop off multiple ballots for early voting outside the Maricopa County Counting and Elections Center ahead of the midterm elections in Phoenix, Arizona, Nov. 3, 2022. . Democrats made significant gains in Phoenix, Arizona. That year.
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP

Political consultant Jay Townsend said: newsweek While these new residents could sway Arizona toward Democrats or Republicans, they are more likely to create opportunities for both parties.

“Less than half of people who moved since 2020 are registered with any political party. Most new voters who have registered since 2016 are unaffiliated or unaffiliated,” Townsend said. Ta.

“Some would argue that the fastest growing party in Arizona is swing voters,” he says.

Independents make up Arizona’s largest political sector. According to the latest voter registration statistics released by Arizona’s Secretary of State, about 34.6 percent of residents, or 1.45 million people, identify as “other,” compared to about 34.4 percent who identify as Republican. , about 30% support Democrats.

“Phoenix and Tucson have two major coasts, and outside of that you have a rural area that acts like an elevated state, a central area, and then you have suburbs that are really the battlegrounds.” Benz said. “So we have something like a microcosm of this country going on.”

Bentz said the age of these new residents will also change the demographics of the electorate. Arizona has traditionally been a destination for Midwesterners looking to retire in the sun, but as these retirees grew up in the 1960s, “their overall level of conservatism declined. It’s starting to happen.”

“Ten years ago, older voters were strongly opposed to marijuana legalization, but as that demographic has gotten older and closer to people who grew up in the ’60s, they’ve become much less resistant to marijuana. ” Benz said. “Age probably has a bigger effect than regional continuity.”

Townsend added, “The Arizona Republican Party relies heavily on older voters, many of whom will disappear from the voting landscape over the next 10 years.”

But others point out that it’s not just older people who are moving to Arizona. Young Americans are increasingly moving east from California, seeing economic opportunity in Arizona’s booming semiconductor industry or seeking lower housing costs while starting families.

“Arizona’s economy is changing with more high-tech jobs,” said Barbara Norlander, a political science professor at the University of Arizona. newsweek.

Norlander added that Arizona has many similarities to Texas. Texas remains the number one destination for Californians moving to other states, but its proximity to the Golden State also makes it easier for former Californians to visit family. And my friends are still there.