Why Arizona matters to Donald Trump and Joe Biden

US News

Donald Trump is staging a campaign blitz in one of the swing states that could deliver a devastating blow to his re-election chances.

Mr Trump won Arizona by four percentage points in 2016 but the polls this time show him trailing former vice president Joe Biden in the state.

Only once since 1948 – when Bill Clinton was running for re-election in 1996 – has the Democratic candidate for president won Arizona.

A restaurant in Kingman, Arizona
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Kingman, Arizona, remains solid Trump country

This year, Arizona is one of half a dozen states that hold the balance of presidential power.

Mr Trump‘s two campaign events in rural areas are an effort to shore up his base support, but Arizona is an example of how changing demographics and moderates disillusioned with Mr Trump have shifted the landscape.

In the northwestern corner of Arizona, Mohave County delivered one of Mr Trump’s biggest margins of victory four years ago. The city of Kingman, which sits on the historic Route 66, remains solid Trump country.

Volunteers at the Republican Party headquarters in Kingman say they believe the enthusiasm for the president remains as high as it was in 2016.

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Out canvassing with identical twin volunteers Karen and Carol Fay, it is clear the president’s base support is fervent in its support.

“It’s so important that he gets re-elected so the country doesn’t go down the tubes,” said Karen. “That’s why I felt I had to do something.”

Twins Carol and Karen Fay
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Twins Carol and Karen Fay are campaigning for Donald Trump

They stop at the door of committed Trump voters Carolyn and Gary Cole. They believe the opinion polls showing Mr Trump losing are “lies”.

“People are scared to say they’re voting for Trump,” said Carolyn. “Well, I’m not.”

Like many Trump supporters, they believe the country is in for the same sort of surprise that saw him upend the polls and beat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

But the challenge Mr Trump has faced, in Arizona and across the country, is reaching out beyond that base and appealing to voters in the political centre.

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In recent weeks, his campaign has made a point of trying to appeal to Latino men in Arizona, with a message that he is a strong leader and job creator. The Latino vote has traditionally leaned towards Democrats.

But other signs are worrying for the president. A political action committee called Arizona Republicans for Biden says it is attracting hundreds of voters who cannot face backing Mr Trump.

Nan Barker, one of the founders of the committee, says it has come at a cost.

Nan and Dan Barker are the founders of the Arizona Republicans for Biden
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Nan and Dan Barker are the founders of the Arizona Republicans for Biden group

“We’ve had vicious comments, social media comments, vicious letters, vicious emails, you’re unworthy, you’re evil, all these things and these are people we’ve known 15 or 20 years, that we’ve gone to church with for 15 or 20 years,” she said.

Her husband Dan added: “Trump is not a unifier, Trump is a divider and hopefully Biden will be able to unify. That’s why so many of us conservatives are working so hard to get Biden elected even though we don’t endorse the whole platform because we believe it’ll be an opportunity for the country to come together.”

Ahead of Mr Trump’s visit, his son Don Jr and daughter Ivanka have made campaign stops in Arizona in recent days at events with members of the Mormon church, and the Latinos for Trump group.

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