In Arizona, Donald Trump’s disappointments could cost him his re-election

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Josh Heaton assures him: he regretted almost “immediately” to have voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Like him, many voters in Arizona, yet convinced Republicans, are preparing today to give their voice to his rival Joe Biden, at the risk of tipping the state into the Democratic camp.

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In 2016, President Trump had won in Arizona by only 91,000 votes against Hillary Clinton, and recent polls give the Democratic candidate a slight lead this year.

At the time, “we did not feel we had much choice,” said Josh Heaton, receiving AFP at his home in the suburbs of Phoenix.

In Arizona, Donald Trump's disappointments could cost him his re-election

“To be honest, until the last moment, I didn’t know who I was going to vote for. And I had regrets immediately after, ”says this 43-year-old engineer, who defines himself as“ a man attached to values, a religious and conservative person ”.

Like many others, he had hoped that the haughty billionaire would adopt a “more presidential” behavior after his victory, “but it was not.”

Mr. Heaton criticizes Mr. Trump in particular for his management of the Covid-19 pandemic, his expensive budgetary policy and especially his “narcissism” and his “perpetual lies”.

Will Donald Trump lose the Arizona he so badly needs to stay in the White House?

Nothing is over yet. The Southwestern state, renowned the world over for its Grand Canyon, has never elected a Democrat since Bill Clinton’s second term in 1996, but it is experiencing profound demographic changes that also have a political impact, report the experts.

For a long time very rural, Arizona has seen rapid growth in its urban areas, in the number of young and educated voters, and in its community of Latin American origin. So many groups statistically more favorable to the Democratic Party.

For Gina Woodall, who teaches political science at Arizona State University, the key to the ballot will be above all in the fact that local voters tend to be moderates and “are tired of the attitude of the president, of his campaign rhetoric ”. They could therefore be tempted to vote for Joe Biden, whatever their party of heart.

Both parties have invested huge sums in their campaign in Arizona and Donald Trump was visiting there on Monday, for the second time in a month, proof of the importance of the issue.

“President Trump has a lot more to lose” in Arizona than Joe Biden, and if he didn’t win that state he would have an even harder time rallying the 270 voters he needs nationally. With a little more than 7 million inhabitants, Arizona gives the winner of the poll eleven voters.

Silent majority?

As in many other states, voters can start voting weeks before official polling day, November 3. And if postal voting is possible, many preferred to come and vote in person, in certain offices which opened in advance.

This is the case of Kathleen McGovern, 71, a lifelong Democrat who holds in her hand her green envelope containing a ballot for Joe Biden. “A lot of my friends are Republicans, and several of them told me they were going to change their ballot” and vote Biden for this election, she told AFP.

“Some of them are afraid that it will be known,” she says.

Until recently, Josh Heaton also wanted to silence his turnaround, believing he belonged to a minority of repentant Trump voters. “I was shocked to learn that there are more of us than that, because we were silent (…) we could even be in the majority”, he says.

Now the 40-year-old and his wife Emily proudly proclaim themselves “Arizona Republicans for Biden” with banners displayed outside their home. “Unity rather than division,” said another flag, planted in the middle of the Halloween decorations.

It remains to be seen whether Josh Heaton and his followers can tip the scales in favor of the Democratic candidate, whose moderate side can appeal to more than one Republican.

In Arizona, Donald Trump's disappointments could cost him his re-election

Because for Gina Woodall, the presidential poll in Arizona will be reduced to “a referendum on the president, his behavior and his policy”, more than a partisan confrontation.

Josh Heaton, he hopes to one day be able to elect a Republican candidate again, but he does not know when.

For now, he just wants “a landslide victory for the Democrats” that can put an end to Donald Trump’s government and his “cult of lack of empathy.”

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