Arizona became a purple state in 2018

Despite all the gloom and doom post-election day reporting here in Arizona about Democrats having squandered their voter enthusiasm and record turnout, as we approach all the votes finally being counted it appears that Democrats had a very good night after all in turning Arizona purple.

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has won the U.S. Senate seat for Democrats for the first time in almost 30 years, and becomes the first woman to serve Arizona in the U.S. Senate.

Former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick took back CD 2 for the Democrats, giving Democrats a 5-4 lead in Arizona’s congressional delegation.

Nationally, Democrats have currently picked up 31 seats to take back the Congress, with a number of races still to be counted in which Democrats lead in most of those races. See, FiveThirtyEight, We’re Tracking The Unresolved Midterm Races. Yes, there was a “blue wave” election. Democrats could win 40 House seats, the most since Watergate.

UPDATE: As of  November 14, the Democratic lead in the U.S. House popular vote stood at 7.1%, though it may yet inch higher. For comparison purposes, note that in 2010 — which was widely seen as a GOP “wave” cycle — Republicans won the U.S. House popular vote by 6.6%. (h/t Maddow Blog).

While there remain votes to be counted, it is increasingly apparent that Democratic state senator Katie Hobbs will be elected Secretary of State. She currently leads political neophyte and Trumpster Steve Gaynor by 5,667 votes. Hobbs’s vote total has increased with each day of vote counting since election day, and that trend is likely to continue.

Democrat Kathy Hoffman has been declared the winner of the Superintendent of Public Instruction race.

Former Corporation Commissioner Democrat Sandra Kennedy currently leads all candidates for the Arizona Corporation Commission. She will win one of the two seats for the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Prior to 2018, Democrats were shut out of all statewide offices for the past two election cycles. Democrats have now won in three of the seven constitutional statewide offices.

While Democrats failed in their effort to capture the Arizona senate, where Republicans will maintain their 17-13 advantage, Democrats picked up four seats in the Arizona House, narrowing the Republican advantage to a historically low 31-29 advantage.

This should give the GOP House leadership fits, because it empowers every Republican House member to threaten to vote with the Democrats to kill any bill with a tie vote. One would hope that this will encourage the GOP House leadership to work with their Democratic House leadership counterparts in a bipartisan manner, rather than disenfranchising half of Arizona’s citizens represented by Democrats by excluding Democrats, as has been their practice for years.

And it is not just here in Arizona. The blue wave was big — and significant — in state legislatures:

Democratic gains in state legislatures reclaimed more than 250 of the many seats lost during Barack Obama’s presidency. Democrats took functional control of an additional seven state legislative chambers, while Republicans took control of only one, the Alaska House. In addition, Democrats gained enough seats to deprive Republicans of supermajorities in Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. This will keep Republicans from having enough votes to override the vetoes of Democratic governors of those states. Democrats achieved supermajorities for themselves in seven chambers.

* * *

The 2018 midterm election set a record for the number of single-party-controlled legislatures. When the new legislators take their seats, only the Minnesota legislature will be divided. The last time the United States had only one divided state legislature was in 1914.

These Democratic gains set the stage for future elections. A majority of the governors holding veto power over redistricting in 2021 are now Democrats. Moreover, in most states where Democrats won control of a legislative chamber on Tuesday, the legislature has a role in the congressional redistricting process — although Colorado voters took this power away from the legislature via the initiative process.

In short, Republican losses in state legislatures were typical for a midterm election, but these losses could translate into larger losses for the party in the future.

Arizona Democrats should feel more encouraged, enthusiastic and energized than ever going into the next election cycle in 2020. The Arizona legislature is within Democrats’ reach for the first time since 1966 (you read that right). Onward and upward!





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4 responses to “Arizona became a purple state in 2018

  1. No Democrat has been elected to an AZ statewide office since 2008 when Sandra Kennedy and Paul Newman were elected to the Corporation Commission. Indeed, Arizona is turning purple with Democrat US Senator-elect Sinema’s win, and that of Democrat Kathy Hoffman for Superintendent of Public Instruction. If State Senator Katie Hobbs and former CC Commissioner Sandra Kennedy do win this General Election, that’s four statewide seats for the Democrats. Stay tuned for the final tally this week.

  2. Given that the AZ Secretary of State is the first in line for the Governor’s job if it opens up a Katie Hobbs win has huge implications for Doug Ducey’s future. Assuming he has plans for a federal office (Senator or President) at some point what should he do about the McCain seat? Putting a Dem in the Governor’s office surely would not endear him to Republican Party loyalists but waiting six years to challenge Sinema also seems unlikely.

    • Presumably if Ducey is running for president it will be in 2024, because he is a Trump loyalist — unless he knows something we don’t that Trump won’t make it to 2020.

      • Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I have this feeling that Trump will end up not running in 2020. He seems very unhealthy (not just mentally) to me.