Democrats hold small but shrinking lead in major Arizona races

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Democrats have maintained a small but dwindling lead over their Republican rivals in the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races, contests that could determine Senate control and election rules. of 2024 in a crucial battlefield state.

The races remained too early to call two days after the election, with some 600,000 ballots still to be counted, about a quarter of the total vote.

Extended vote counts have been a staple of elections in Arizona for years, where the overwhelming majority of votes are cast by mail and many people wait until the last minute to return them. But as Arizona has gone from a GOP stronghold to a competitive battleground, the delays have increasingly become a source of national anxiety for supporters on both sides.

After opening up big leads early on election night, when only mail-in ballots returned early were reported, Democrats saw their leads dwindle as more Republican ballots were counted. On Thursday morning, Democrats led the races for Senate, governor and secretary of state, while the race for attorney general was essentially tied. It could take several days to find out who won some of the tighter contests.

With Republicans still in the hunt, it was unclear whether the stronger-than-expected showing by Democrats in much of the United States would spread to Arizona, a longtime Republican stronghold that has become a field of battle during Donald Trump’s presidency.

The GOP named a slate of candidates who won Trump’s endorsement after he falsely claimed his loss to President Joe Biden was tainted.

Among them, former TV news anchor Kari Lake was about half a point behind Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in the gubernatorial race, a contest that was heavily centered on baseless fraud allegations. de Lake in the 2020 election. The Republican nominee for attorney general also narrowly trailed.

Democrats had more comfortable 5-point margins in the races for U.S. Senate and Secretary of State, but with so many ballots in circulation, the races were too early to be announced.

In the race for attorney general, Republican Abraham Hamadeh edged out Democrat Kris Mayes.

Officials in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, said about 17,000 ballots were affected by a printing mishap that prevented ballot counters from reading some ballots, a problem that slowed voting in some places and infuriated Republicans who had been counting on high turnout on Election Day. County officials said all ballots would be counted, but gave no time frame for doing so.

The cause remains a mystery. The two senior County Board of Supervisors officials, both Republicans, said in a statement late Wednesday that they used the same printers, settings and paper thickness in primary and pre-election testing in August, when he there were no general problems.

“There is no perfect election. Yesterday was not a perfect election,” Oversight Board Chairman Bill Gates told reporters earlier today. better.”

Lake reiterated his promise to immediately call lawmakers into a special session after being sworn in to make massive changes to Arizona’s election laws. She wants to drastically reduce early and absentee voting, the options chosen by at least 8 out of 10 Arizona voters, and count all ballots by hand, which election administrators say would be extremely time-consuming.

Ballots can have dozens of races. Maricopa County has more than 50 judges on the ballot, in addition to state and local races and 10 ballot measures.

“We’re going to go back to smaller ridings where it’s easier to spot problems and fix them and it’s also going to be easier to count the votes by hand,” Lake told Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Wednesday evening. “Those are some of the things I would like to see happen. I will work with the Legislative Assembly.

An urban-rural political divide was evident among Arizona voters.

Democrats Katie Hobbs and Sen. Mark Kelly each won the support of nearly two-thirds of urban voters, according to AP VoteCast, an extensive survey of more than 3,200 voters in Arizona.

Suburban voters are split roughly evenly between the two Democratic candidates and their GOP rivals Kari Lake and Blake Masters. Voters in small towns and rural areas were more likely to favor Lake and Masters.

In the Senate race, suburban men and women were divided in their candidate preferences. The suburban men clearly favored the masters, the Kelly suburban women.

In the gubernatorial race, suburban men overwhelmingly supported Lake, while suburban women slightly favored Hobbs.

Meanwhile, Republicans who control the three-member Board of Supervisors in southeastern Arizona’s Cochise County voted on Wednesday to appeal a judge’s ruling that barred them from counting by hand all the ballots, which are also tallied by machines.

Efforts to count ballots by hand in the county and elsewhere around the country are prompted by unfounded concerns among some Republicans that problems with vote-counting machines or voter fraud led to Trump’s defeat. in 2020.

A judge said the plan violated state election law that limits manual counting to a small sample of ballots, a process intended to confirm that the machine count was accurate.


Associated Press writers Bob Christie and Terry Tang contributed.

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