Latest HighGround poll shows dead heat – revealing the struggle between Trump’s rural Arizona gambit and Biden’s need for record returns in Maricopa County
Contact: Paul Bentz, 602-528-3684
PHOENIX (Oct 6, 2020) – Following a rollercoaster week that started with a chaotic debate performance and ended with Covid-19 diagnosis for President Trump, the latest poll conducted by HighGround Public Affairs reveals a single point lead for former Vice President Joe Biden over President Donald Trump in the State of Arizona.
Paul Bentz, Senior Vice President – Research and Strategy said, “The razor thin margin following a tumultuous week shows not only the volatility of the Presidential Election in Arizona, but also the importance of Vice President Biden finally setting foot in the state. Our latest survey clearly demonstrates that if Biden is going to win in Arizona, it will happen because of record high voter turnout in Maricopa County. During his visit, he needs to stoke enthusiasm, energize new and lower efficacy voters, and leave it all on the field in the Valley of the Sun.”
The President has visited Arizona five times and the Biden campaign has yet to visit the State.
Historic voting trends demonstrate that approximately 60% of all likely votes will be cast from Maricopa County – Arizona’s most populous county. These survey results reflect this trend. However, Arizona’s August Primary election showed a significant surge in Democratic participation narrowing the GOP ballot request advantage to only 52% to 48%. Also during the Primary, independent and unaffiliated voters leaned more Democratic – with a ballot request advantage of almost 7 points. This trend continues in the latest polling showing Biden leading Trump in Maricopa County 47.6% to 42.8%.
“For the Biden campaign to win, he will have to take advantage of not only the shifting demographics of Maricopa County, but also its position as one of the fastest growing counties in the country. The more Maricopa County dominates the overall voter turnout this November, the more likely Biden is to win. Combined with the trend line in the August Primary that voter enthusiasm with Maricopa County voters may be there, but as we know, it has not happened since President Clinton took the state in 1996 as a centrist Democrat. That’s why we tend to see more optimistic numbers from national surveys for Biden in Maricopa-heavy surveys. If his visit can energize that sort of turnout trend, there’s no doubt that the gap will start to widen,” concluded Bentz.
On the other hand, the statewide survey also showed the significant role that Greater Arizona may play in the upcoming election. For the past ten years, this “fly-over” portion of the Arizona electorate has made up between 23 and 25% of the overall turnout. However, Trump’s Victory effort made a tactical gambit to focus extensively on the rural portions of the state – an effort that appears to be paying off. In May, Trump was leading Biden in Rural Arizona 62.3% to 28.6%. As early voting begins, Trump has maintained his advantage at 60.5% to 29.6%.
Chuck Coughlin, President and CEO of HighGround Inc. said, “The President is remaining competitive in Arizona due to the extensive amount of support he receives in Greater Arizona. He is keeping pace because he has been able to minimize his losses in Pima County and remain competitive in vote heavy Maricopa County. It’s a gamble that has only worked statewide once in recent Arizona history (Diane Douglas in 2014), but it has worked. However, with the voter dominance of Maricopa County there is a limit to this type of strategy.”
“As early voting starts in Arizona, the road to the White House runs through Maricopa County. If voters show up in record numbers like many believe they will, the Biden campaign will carry Arizona. If concerns about ballot security, COVID-19, or other items suppress turnout in any way, the efforts in rural Arizona may hold the state for Trump,” concluded Coughlin.
About the Survey
The N=400 survey was conducted among likely voters 9/28 through 10/5. The poll surveyed likely Arizona 2020 General Election voters who have a history of electoral participation and was balanced to model the likely turnout of voters across party, age, region, and gender.
The live interview survey of voters was conducted by HighGround Public Affairs to both landline and cell phone users. The partisan advantage was set at +3% GOP based on previous election trends, including the uptick in Democratic participation in the August primary, and expected Presidential Election turnout. The margin of error is ±4.9%.
The HighGround team has built a reputation of reliable and accurate polling over the past ten years – our research has been featured on Nate Silver’s 538, Real Clear Politics, Huffington Post, and many other publications. Paul Bentz was recently named back to back winner of “Best Pollster” by the Arizona Capitol Times.