Fight for Jewish vote in battleground state Arizona

Could Arizona go blue in 2020?

Yard signs supporting U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden (photo credit: REUTERS/AL DRAGO/FILE PHOTO)
Yard signs supporting U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden
WASHINGTON – Since 1952, Arizona voted only once for a Democrat in a Presidential election – for Bill Clinton in 1996. Could it go blue in 2020? According to the Real Clear Politics polling average, Trump is currently leading Biden by 0.6%, while according to the FiveThirtyEight polling average, Biden is leading by 2.1%. And with 11 electoral votes, both candidates are looking at Arizona as a critical state.
Shir Attias, Political and Policy Associate at the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said that most of the Jewish population in Arizona is concentrated in Maricopa County, which encompasses the Phoenix Metro Area. “Maricopa County is also the key county politically – winning Maricopa county is key to winning any statewide Arizona election. There’s also a large Jewish population in Tucson, Arizona,” she said.
“Arizona is critically important in this election,” she continued. “Donald Trump won in Arizona by only three points in 2016. All of the polling indicates that Biden is holding the lead in the state. This would be the first time the state voted for a Democratic candidate in a very long time. And it’s certainly competitive and up for grabs.”
Attias noted that the race in Arizona is crucial for the Democrats to flip the Senate as well.
“It’s estimated that over 113,000 Jewish adults live in Arizona [out of five million voters, about two percent]. That’s not an insignificant number. In 2018, Krysten Sinema won by 55,000 votes. That’s about twice the size of that vote margin. So we know that the Jewish vote can really have an impact in the state.”
Eighty percent of the 2016 voters in Arizona are estimated to have already voted in this election, she added. “So we know that voters are voting early, and they’re voting by mail. And that’s a great sign for Democrats. We know that voters who vote early and by mail are more likely to vote for Democrats.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” she continued. “We have an extensive effort in Arizona, which includes our Arizona chapter and my local grassroots chapter that has made over 45,000 texts and calls to date alone. And that doesn’t include all of the calls and texts that will be made in the final days of the election.”
Lisa Karlovsky is the Arizona chapter chair for the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). She said that the Jewish community in Arizona is diverse and spread out. “The Phoenix metro area is quite large. It spans 100 miles. It’s a very, very large spread out Jewish community. The majority of the Jews, however, live in Scottsdale and Phoenix.”
She said she is optimistic about Trump’s chances to win the state – and the election. “I think he’s going to pull it out, [but] I think it’s going to be a tough one,” she said.  
Karlovsky also noted that the Jewish population in Arizona tends to be a little bit more conservative than the rest of the country. “Arizona was always historically a red state. And over the years, it has been trending more purple,” she added.
“I think there’s still a lot of this ‘silent majority,’” she continued. “I also think that the Hispanic vote is going to be interesting here in Arizona and in other states, because the people that we know really love Trump and appreciate all he’s done in terms of job creation.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, RJC organized monthly events with speakers from all across the US. But now, there are no in-person events, and most of her work is through phone-banking.
“With covid, I have to say it’s been a bit of a challenge. We normally like to do different debate watching parties and we get different candidates coming,” she added.
“We have to keep Israel and the US going in the right direction,” Karlovsky continued. “It’s very important. We have such a good relationship now, which we did not have before President Trump and so we need to keep it going that way.
“In terms of all that Trump has done with combating BDS, with his executive order, with Middle East peace, with moving the embassy to Jerusalem, these are monumental steps that have always been promised but never done.”