TUCSON, Arizona (Border Report) — The announcement that former Vice President Joe Biden had won the presidential election came as votes were still being counted Saturday in Arizona, a state where he is leading and appears to have gotten significant Hispanic votes.
In order to flip the traditionally red state, Biden needed 70% of the state’s Hispanic vote, Politico reported. And weeks before the election, several nonprofit organizations throughout the state took up a door-knocking and outreach campaign specifically aimed at Hispanic and youth voters under the age of 35.
“We know our power,” Alicia Contreras, executive director of the nonprofit faith-based organization CORAZÓN Arizona, told Border Report on Thursday as votes were still being counted. “The election is a day but we know we can hold folks accountable all year.”
We know our power. The election is a day but we know we can hold folks accountable all year.”Alicia Contreras, CORAZÓN Arizona
The Associated Press on Tuesday night reported that Biden had won Arizona. But a contentious count was still undergoing in Arizona on Saturday, and some news organizations, such as CNN, had still had not called Arizona for Biden.
Contreras’ group knocked on over 14,000 Hispanic homes and conducted outreach with over 50,000 residents in Maricopa County in the past three weeks and during a dangerous pandemic, most through digital and phone bank outreach. Their goal was to ask Latino families the issues most important to them and what policies they want changed. And they stressed the importance of casting a vote to have their voices heard.
“The students who were not able to vote 10 years ago have witnessed and experienced all the injustices that were targeting Latinx and Black families and so we understand that our liberation is tied to one another and creating that sense of community,” Contreras said, adding that Hispanics and youth voters “turned out in record numbers.”
Numbers released by the Arizona Secretary of State’s office clearly show Biden leading President Donald Trump, who is the first incumbent president to lose a presidential election in over a quarter of a century. In Arizona, Biden so far had received 1,626,943 votes (49.56%) compared with Trump’s 1,606,370 (48.94%), according to the Arizona Secretary of State office.
Several of the grassroots outreach groups were part of Mi AZ, a movement that solicited to gain 1 million voters of color and young voters in Arizona this presidential election.
The efforts are credited with spawning a blue wave that rolled over Arizona, which helped other Democratic candidates in Arizona, including the U.S. Senate seat and a vulnerable border congressional district.
Democrat Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and the husband of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, defeated incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, who had been appointed to the seat after the death of venerable U.S. Sen. John McCain.
Statewide, Democrats won five out of nine congressional seats against Republicans in Arizona on Tuesday.
Even Along the Arizona-Mexico border southeast of Tucson, Democrats held onto the 2nd Congressional District, which had flipped twice in the past 10 years. This enabled U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick to fend off a challenge by Republican opponent Brandon Martin by more than 11 percentage points, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office.
TV commercials and billboards and campaign signs inundated Arizonans in the weeks leading up to the election in the 2nd congressional district, which spans from Tucson southeast to the New Mexico line. Border Report visited the state recently and talked to voters on the border, who were especially knowledgeable about the Senate campaign and several congressional races.
“Arizonans know how important it is to have an independent thinker, experienced legislator and accessible appropriator working for them in Washington. I’m so thankful for our voters, campaign staff and volunteers who helped land us an overwhelming victory tonight,” Kirkpatrick said in a statement Wednesday.
Kirkpatrick ran on a healthcare platform and for the de-militarization of the Southwest border. Arizona is one of the border states with the fastest amount of border wall miles being constructed, largely because much of the land is federally-controlled and accessible to the Trump administration.
“Our border is one of our greatest assets. They know that migrant families shouldn’t be separated and DACA recipients should be protected. Our border and relationship with Mexico are economic drivers, not hateful and divisive issues. Trump’s nefarious immigration policies go against our values, and I am unafraid to fight back. Our border and national security should be smart and humane,” Kirkpatrick said.
CORAZON Arizona joined forces with other grassroots coalition groups, like LUCHA Arizona (Living United for Change in Arizona), whose volunteers conducted community outreach to thousands of Hispanic and youth in the state. On Wednesday, in multiple tweets on Twitter, LUCHA Arizona celebrated what it touted as a “Blue Wave.”
“Arizona could be the tipping point in one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. And we’re ready to do what it takes to defeat Donald Trump and elect progressives up and down the ballot,” the organization said on its website.
Some media, such as the Associated Press, had initially put Arizona in Biden’s column, but as the race began to appear close in many counties, many news organizations like The New York Times and CNN, held off calling the state. Arizona then fell under national and international scrutiny as poll workers continued to count votes that were obviously going to be quite important in the outcome of this presidential election.
Ecologist Myles Traphagen, Borderlands Program Coordinator for the nonprofit Wildlands Network, based in Tucson, followed the counting closely and believed Biden would win the state and especially areas with Hispanic and minority voters.
“That’s a huge bellwether. It had not gone to a Democratic president in so many years,” Traphagen said. “These died-in-the-wool lifelong Republicans appeared to be voting the other way.”