Joe Biden hopes to break decades of historical precedent in Arizona

Posted at 4:20 PM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 23:14:02-04

PHOENIX — If Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden wins Arizona, it would break decades of historical precedent in the state.

Arizona's electoral votes have long gone to the Republican nominee for president. Since the 1948 election, where Harry Truman defeated Thomas Dewey, a Democratic nominee for president has only won the state once.

In 1996 Bill Clinton won Arizona with roughly 46% of the vote, defeating Bob Dole.

"We forget there was a third candidate, Ross Perot, who polled nearly 8% that year," said Brooks Simpson, ASU Foundation Professor of History at Arizona State University. "So Democrats, in terms of getting a majority of the popular vote, you have to go all the way back to 1948."

1948 ended a stretch run for Democrats in Arizona, with the Democratic nominee for president winning the state five consecutive times. The tide turned in 1952.

"One of the reasons that the state becomes red in the 1950s [is] a very popular Republican candidate, Dwight Eisenhower," Simpson said. "The building of a Republican establishment in the state. Barry Goldwater's rise to political prominence and the like. The state begins to build a substantial republican base."

However, Simpson told ABC15 the makeup of Arizona is changing and is a more competitive state in election cycles.

"Over the last 10, 15 years you've had a lot of migration from other states," he said. "California in particular, New York, Illinois. Those people bring with them different political ideas. So a lot of the change in the state is not people changing their minds but rather the composition of the state's population is changing and that's moving the state in a more democratic direction."