Donald Trump’s Maricopa problem

The sun sets over the desert near Casa Grande, Ariz.,/Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Arizona’s most populous county will go a long way to determining the next president

By Stuart Rothenberg | Roll Call

ANALYSIS — In 2016, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump carried Arizona by about 91,000 votes out of more than 2.6 million votes cast. His 3.5-point margin over Hillary Clinton was significantly narrower than the showings of recent GOP presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney, John McCain or George W. Bush in the state. Their victory margins ranged from 6 to 10 points.

Also on the Arizona ballot in 2016 was Sen. John McCain, who was running for reelection. McCain, a critic of Trump even back then, carried the state by 328,022 votes — a margin of 13 points.

Clearly, Arizona voters, who have elected Republicans such as McCain, Jeff Flake and Jon Kyl to the Senate over the past 30 years, were not enthusiastic about Trump.

And two years after Trump’s election, the unthinkable happened. Democrats in the Grand Canyon State won their first statewide election for federal office in 22 years when Rep. Kyrsten Sinema defeated GOP Rep. Martha McSally by 2.4 points in a hard-fought Senate race.

The problem for Republicans is that Sinema’s victory and Trump’s relatively weak showing in 2016 suggest that Arizona’s politics are changing — or at least that state voters find Trump unpalatable

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