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Biden Picks Up Arizona And Its 11 Electoral Votes

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, there's a set of states on land the United States won from Mexico in a war in the 1840s. Just over a generation ago, these states of the Southwest were reliably Republican. Since then, the Pacific Coast and the southwestern states have gradually become more blue - California, of course, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada has become a swing state, which is undecided, by the way, at this moment. But then there's Arizona, which has not gone for a Democrat since the 1990s until last night. The Associated Press has called Arizona for Joe Biden. And NPR's Kirk Siegler is in Phoenix following the presidential race and a Senate race. Hey there, Kirk.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: How big a deal is it that Arizona would vote for a Democrat for president and also, by the way, for Senate, Mark Kelly?

SIEGLER: Right. Well, we were talking about turnout. Democrats are - can credit a big turnout here, particularly in Maricopa County, the state's most populous, which includes Phoenix. And it has been trending purple, if not outright blue, since about 2018. So I think to your point or answer to your question, this is a state that I think Joe Biden wanted to win. Now it's a state that's, you know, seen as absolutely crucial. You know, it gives him a little bit of a cushion or at least a path if he doesn't sweep - a path to election if he doesn't sweep the upper Midwest and, say, Pennsylvania and the other Sunbelt states that Democrats had hoped to get more gains in.

INSKEEP: Yeah. We're looking at these states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Biden might have needed all three, but because he's got Arizona, he might be able to get away with two of them and still get up to 270 electoral votes. Can you talk to me about how it is that Arizona, as well as that entire region, has changed demographically or socially? Why would it be trending more blue?

SIEGLER: Well, you're talking about a lot of these Western states. You know, you think of the vast open spaces, but Arizona, like many of the other Western states, is really urban. You know, it's increasingly urban. And we know that that generally benefits Democrats. There have been a lot of younger people moving in from states like California, New York, tech workers. But the story of Maricopa County in particular and Phoenix is that it's increasingly diverse, and you have younger Latinos who are coming of voting age. And, you know, this is huge. Listeners will remember Maricopa County being home to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the anti-immigration sheriff who was voted out here in 2016, a story that didn't get a lot of attention because, of course, the Trump election. But, you know, you talk to younger Latinos who I've - as I have been doing the last couple of weeks, whose families tend to come from Mexico and Central America. Of course, Latinos are not one big monolithic voting group, you know. And these voters coming of age have been hearing about Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Republicans who have passed hardline immigration laws that have been mostly overturned in the courts for a lot of their lives. And they're voting now. And we're seeing a big turnout in particular in the more urban counties. And that seems to be a big credit for Democrats.

INSKEEP: Kirk, thanks very much.

SIEGLER: You're welcome, Steve.

INSKEEP: NPR's Kirk Siegler is in Arizona, which went to Joe Biden, one of the significant results overnight. Although we still do not have a final result. Neither candidate has been able to lay claim to 270 electoral votes. And we will stick with the facts and bring you facts as we learn them. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.