A new TargetSmart analysis reveals a shift toward a younger and more diverse electorate in Arizona, solidifying its status as an emergent swing state ahead of the 2020 election. The analysis finds that more than a third of voters of color were under 24 years old, suggesting the potential for long-term power at the polls from young voters and people of color. This demographic shift spells trouble for the GOP which historically relies on strong support from white voters in Arizona and other swing states.
In 2018, Kyrsten Sinema was able to capitalize on the shifting demographics of the state, becoming the first Democrat elected to the Senate from the state since 1994. Looking toward 2020, Democrats have to opportunity to flip John McCain’s former Senate seat and carry the state’s 11 Electoral Votes.
As with several other states, Arizona saw an increased share of young voters in the 2018 midterm elections compared to the 2014 midterm election. Voters under 40 increased their vote share relative to 2014 by more than 7 percent, according to our analysis. The largest drop in vote share came from the 50–64 year old demographic, a drop of more than 5 percent relative to 2014.
Young voters of color in Arizona are increasingly engaging in the political process at higher rates than in previous elections. More than half of voters of color were under 34 years old. Hispanic voters saw the largest increase in vote share relative to 2014 out of all demographic groups, growing to 12.31 percent from 9.14 percent four years prior.
Additionally, African American and Asian voters all increased their vote share relative to both 2014 and the 2016 presidential election.
Our analysis of first time vote share and newly registered voters reveals the potential for an electoral shift in Arizona. Young voters are not only registering to vote, but also they are taking tangible action at the polls. 133,428 people under 35 who had not cast a ballot in the 2016 general election voted in the 2018 midterms — nearly double the margin of victory for Sen. Sinema. Voters under 40 made up 60 percent of all newly registered voters in Arizona in 2018, and voters under 30 accounted for nearly half of all new voters. Additionally, Hispanic voters accounted for more than a fifth of new voters in the AZ 2018 midterm election.