Arizona's Latino voters and political independents could spell midterm defeats for MAGA candidates

Two years after the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump’s resentment over losing continues to energize his supporters in Arizona.

That resentment played out during the Aug. 13, 2022, Republican primaries that saw Trump-endorsed candidates for U.S. Senate, governor, secretary of state and state attorney general sweep the GOP ticket.

While each of the candidates made Trump’s false claims that he won the presidential contest a central part of their campaigns, it’s unclear whether that message will resonate among Arizona’s increasingly diverse registered voters in the general election on Nov. 8, 2022.

Trump-endorsed Blake Masters beat his Republican challengers and faces incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly. In the governor’s race, Kari Lake, the former television anchor endorsed by Trump, is facing Democrat Kati Hobbes, the sitting Arizona secretary of state, for the governor’s office.

In the state’s attorney general’s race, GOP candidate and another 2020 election denier Abraham Hamadeh, faces Democrat Kris Mayes.

Most disconcerting to Democrats was the primary win of Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, a 2020 election denier who won the Republican nomination for secretary of state over a more moderate Republican. If he beats Democrat Adrian Fontes in the November general election, Finchem would oversee the state’s elections.

That possibility has Democrats fearing repeats of political acts such as the Republican-backed review of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona’s largest county that ended without producing proof to support Trump’s false claims of a stolen election.

Changing demographics favor Democrats

As a native Arizonan who has studied Arizona politics for the past 20 years, I have seen the rise of political extremism in my home state.

The victories of extremist GOP candidates and open support of baseless conspiracy theories have added a volatile ingredient to the politics of Arizona, where a historically conservative electorate is undergoing dramatic political shifts due to changing demographics.

Over the past 10 years, residents who identify solely as white saw their numbers shrink from 73% in 2010 to 60% in 2020. At the same time, the number of residents who identified as more than one race grew from 3.4% in 2010 to nearly 14% in 2020.

In all, Arizona has close to 7.5 million residents, and over 30% of them identify as Latino. Over the past decade, the state’s Latino population grew from 1.9 million to 2.2 million. By some estimates, Latinos could make up as much as 50% of the state’s population by 2050.