White working-class communities in economically depressed areas banking on Republican nominee for a reversal of fortune.
Four years ago, when US President Barack Obama was running for a second term against Republican nominee Mitt Romney, he made exactly zero trips to the state of Arizona in the critical months leading up to the election.
There was simply no point. After all, the state had a very conservative Republican governor, a popular longtime senator who ran against him in 2008, and a losing streak in presidential elections going back to 1996.
But now that could be changing. Democrats are blitzing the state this week in an attempt to set up presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for a statewide win in November.
Clinton superstars such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Chelsea Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama are all campaigning there this week.
On a call with reporters on Monday, Robbie Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said the nominee herself could be making a trip there, too. He added that an additional two million dollars would be pumped into the state in direct mail and advertising.
Why? The Clinton campaign is “trying to run up the score as much as possible,” according to Geoffrey Skelley, from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. He adds that with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump making persistent remarks alleging the election is “rigged” in favour of Clinton, the Democrats are trying not only to beat him on November 8, but bury him to prove him wrong.
Indeed, Arizona is ripe for the Democrats to pick. The growing Hispanic population, many of whom are motivated to vote against Trump because of his negative remarks about undocumented immigrants, will help Democrats.
Republican Senator John McCain, who represents Arizona in the US Senate, opposes Trump. He didn’t help his cause in the state when he said in July 2015 that McCain, a former Prisoner of War in Vietnam, wasn’t a hero because he was captured by the enemy.
In September the Arizona Republic, a conservative newspaper, broke with tradition and, for the first time, endorsed a Democrat for president.
A recent Emerson College poll showed Clinton in the lead in Arizona for the first time.
But some analysts believe this could also be a strategy by the Clinton camp to throw Trump off his game at a time when his resources and money are stretched thin.
Whether it will work is still unclear. “We should watch to see if they [Clinton’s campaign] make any further investments,” adds Skelley.