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News Analysis: Demographic change turns more western states into battleground in U.S. presidential election

By Peter Mertz (Xinhua)    13:16, October 26, 2016

DENVER, Oct. 25  -- U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's recent dip in the polls pulled Arizona, won by only one Democrat since 1948, into the national spotlight as a key battleground state in the upcoming presidential election.


"A lot of it has to do with Trump being on top of the ticket," Enrique Gutierrez, communications director for the Arizona Democratic Party, told Xinhua.

"But look closely at the changing demographics here in Arizona as well," he added.

Just as the Latino vote was credited with giving President Barack Obamaa 2012 victory in neighbouring Colorado, Gutierrez, a Latino himself, thought Latinos threatened by Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric would vote in droves on Nov. 8, and mobilized an estimated 200,000 voters in Arizona since 2010, according to Latino's For Democracy.

Arizona's Latino population -- one-third of its total -- is the fourth largest in the United Statesand accounts for 23 percent of Arizona's eligible voters, who overwhelmingly support Democrats.

Also, the state of Colorado has the 8th largest Latino population in the United States at about 20 percent, and, according to the Pew Research Center data, about 15 percent of all eligible voters in Colorado are Latinos.

Arizona's 11 Electoral College votes are the most in the region, two more than Colorado's nine, and a prize compared to nearby western states including Utah (6), New Mexico (5), Wyoming (3), Kansas (6), Nevada (6), and Wyoming (3).

With recent opinion polls calling the Sun State's presidential race a dead heat, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clintonpoured 2 million U.S. dollars in advertising and sent President Barack Obama's wife Michelle, and her daughter Chelsea there to campaign last week.

Heeding the call, Trump's son Eric was scheduled to head back to Arizona next week.

With two weeks to go before the election, both candidates are focusing on a handful of key battleground states they hope will turn the tide.


This week, both Clinton and Trump would campaign on the east coast in Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Virginia, which are also considered as swing states, but insiders said both candidates would head west soon.

And Those who reject Trump not only include Latinos in Sunbelt states like Arizona and Colorado, but also a majority of young voters relocated to the west in the past decade.

"Young voters may make the difference in Arizona this year," Gutierrez said, "Our demographics have shifted, and the 19 to 28 years old is also voting Democratic, our data shows."

Tucson's KGUN9-TV reported last week that a survey by the Youth Electoral Significance Index said young voters may decide several key state races in Arizona this year, and that Arizona had three congressional districts in the top 50 nationwide where young voters may decide the outcome.

Frankie Cardona, 26, moved to Phoenix from Washington D.C. last year because of the weather, good colleges, and more job opportunities, he said, and was surprised by the young, progressive Democrats he met in the state.

"All of my friends are voting for Clinton. We have no choice," he said, "We prefer (Bernie) Sanders, but with Trump on the other side, we have to keep him out of the White House."

The demographic influx of "young voters" changed nearby Colorado permanently.

Colorado was the second fastest growing state in the country last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, bolstered by Millennials, Latinos and college graduates, who all lean left.

For the first time in 32 years, there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the Centennial State.

In 2012, the turnout among Colorado residents ages 18 to 29 was 15 percent higher than the national average for young voters, according to information from CIRCLE, a non-partisan organization that researches youth engagement in politics.

"If you combine Latino with young American voters, this group poses a big threat to the Republican Party in western America," explained Colorado GOP Adviser James Ryder, "This election will confirm if it is entrenched in Colorado, and if Arizona is headed that way."


One month ago, Trump moved ahead of Clinton in Colorado, according to CNN (48-47), and Reuters/Ipsos (43-41) polls, but political insiders said Trump's sexist remarks released three weeks ago from 2005 had flipped those numbers in favor of Clinton.

But the Colorado race is still razor-close, and the state is still considered an "up for grabs" battleground by most politicians.

Trump made it easy for Democrats in Arizona and Colorado by angering Hispanics, Mormons, Native Americans, moderate women, and all the big Republican names including Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, an Arizona political insider told Xinhua.

In Colorado and across the west, Trump's bragging about groping women also damaged him with conservatives, like Col. Sen. Cory Gardener, and Utah's Mormon church, who both asked the billionaire to step aside two weeks ago.

Never before have opinion polls been under fire as they are in 2016, with Trump declaring Monday in Florida that the polls are rigged and used by the liberal media to suppress the vote.

Although in conservative Utah, opinion polls seem extra mercurial and hardly liberal.

An Oct. 15-17 Rasmussen poll showed the election a dead heat; an Oct. 12-14 poll by YouGov showed Trump in a landslide by 16 points; and, an Oct. 17-19 poll by Emerson College showed independent candidate Evan McMullin ahead by six points.

McMullin, a Mormon, political independent, and former CIA undercover agent, has gone from complete obscurity to leading in the polls, and has filled the "Anti-Trump" conservative gap in Utah.

Utah's half-dozen six electoral college votes haven't gone Democratic since 1964, but insiders said McMullin had a good shot at winning the state, due to an entrenched conservative base, and a great voter dislike for both Trump and Clinton.

In 2012, Mitt Romneycrushed Obama, 73 to 25, in his home state of Utah.

Nevada's six Electoral College votes seem up for grabs as well, and Clinton is heading there next week.

The population of the Silver State more than tripled since 1980, bringing its number of electoral votes from three to six. Although Republicans were dominant in Nevada from the 60s to late 80s, the recent population influx puts the state firmly into the battleground state category.

In 2012, Nevadans voted for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney 52 to 46, and both parties consider the state wide open.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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