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Measuring the 'Trump Factor' in Arizona Republican primaries

Donald Trump
Posted at 1:26 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 07:43:55-04

PHOENIX — Donald Trump is not on the ballot, but he plays an enormous role in Republican primary races.

Campaign road signs, television and social media ads are everywhere. Candidates belonging to the same party, holding many similar viewpoints trying to differentiate themselves. Endorsements are a way of signaling to the party faithful where you stand on the issues. But the one endorsement that stand out above all others is from former President Trump.

At last count, the election tracking site Ballotpedia recorded 217 federal and state Trump endorsements in 2022. He has endorsed twelve candidates in Arizona, the sixth most. His most prominent endorsements in Arizona are for gubernatorial candidate and former Fox 10 anchor Kari Lake and US Senate candidate Blake Masters. He has also endorsed Abe Hamadeh for Attorney General, and Mark Finchem for Secretary of State.

All three of Arizona’s Republican incumbent US House candidates have received endorsements as well as four state senate races and one state house race.

One clear advantage of Trump’s endorsement is the support of his extensive grassroots network. Dr. Andrew Jackson is a prominent Arizona organizer for “MAGA” candidates and an ardent supporter of Donald Trump. “When someone gets the Trump endorsement, it just pushes them forward, but also people start to look closer.” Jackson said.

The “Trump factor” has already played out in other states that have had primaries. Of the 217 endorsements made, 111 of them went to incumbent politicians. Forty-three of these incumbents did not have a primary challenge. Of the remaining incumbents, Madison Cawthorn (NC-11) was the only one that failed to win their primary.

A Trump-endorsed candidate in an open seat successfully won their primary nomination 83% of the time.

Candidates challenging incumbents is where Trump’s endorsement record beings to falter. Six of Trump’s eleven endorsements against Republican incumbents faltered. Most occurred in Georgia, where all four of Trump’s endorsed candidates lost their primaries.

Trump has endorsed three challengers to incumbent Republicans in Arizona. All these endorsements are for state senate and state house candidates.

There are hints on how the Trump factor will play out in Arizona. An analysis from Alloy Analytics shows Trump’s favored candidate in the US Senate, Blake Masters, started the year trailing his major opponents Mark Brnovich and Jim Lamon. In June Trump endorsed Masters, and polling after that date has him surging. He now consistently leads as the favorite to take on Democratic Senator Mark Kelly.

Ultimately though, the true power of the Trump factor in Arizona Republican primaries won’t be known until the last ballot is counted.