Democrats are running an experimental campaign to turn a deep red state blue

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Can Democrats Turn Arizona Blue?

For the first time in a generation, Democrats are getting serious about competing in one of the most reliably red states: Arizona.

With most polls showing Hillary Clinton within several points of Donald Trump in the Grand Canyon State, Democrats are building out the first serious field operation in the state to compete in 2016 and beyond.

This week, the Clinton campaign announced that it would invest in hiring staff to campaign in the state.

Though the Clinton campaign's concrete investment in Arizona is still unclear, a Democratic source familiar with Clinton's strategy in the state told Business Insider that there are no existing plans to air television ads. The majority of the campaign's resources — likely somewhere in the "six figures" — will likely be dedicated to helping build out the field program in the state, knocking on doors and collecting and updating outdated voter information.

RELATED: See Clinton's speech at the DNC

17 PHOTOS
Hillary Clinton DNC speech
See Gallery
Hillary Clinton DNC speech
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton bats balloons after accepting the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton enjoys the balloon drop after accepting the nomination on the fourth and final night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband former president Bill Clinton react to the balloon drop after she accepted the nomination on the fourth and final night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton enjoys the balloon drop with her vice presidential running mate Senator Tim Kaine after accepting the nomination on the fourth and final night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband former president Bill Clinton react to the balloon drop after she accepted the nomination on the fourth and final night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton celebrates with balloons after she accepted the nomination on the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton celebrates among balloons after she accepted the nomination on the fourth and final night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her vice presidential running mate Senator Tim Kaine celebrate among balloons after she accepted the nomination on the fourth and final night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton hugs her husband former president Bill Clinton after accepting the nomination on the fourth and final night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton bats balloons after accepting the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (L) waves with Anne Holton, wife of vice presidential running mate Senator Tim Kaine (Back, R) and her husband former president Bill Clinton after accepting the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton walks with her vice presidential running mate Senator Tim Kaine during the balloon drop after accepting the nomination on the fourth and final night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) and Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine (R) celebrate with loved ones and supporters after her acceptance speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband former US President Bill Clinton watch falling balloons during the 2016 Democratic National Convention July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton stands with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, after accepting the nomination on the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Balloons come down on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine at the end of the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center on July 28, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton celebrates among balloons after she accepted the nomination on the fourth and final night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

With Trump's deep unpopularity among the state's Latino and Hispanic population, Democrats recognized an opportunity in 2015 to take a different approach to campaigning in the state.

Party executive director Sheila Healy said that Democrats decided to run an expanded field operation in order to increase voter registration and turnout by making earlier, more frequent contact with potential voters, rather than rely primarily on television advertisements and last-minute voter contact.

Rather than running separate field operations, around 130 campaign staffers are working in tandem for Clinton, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who is challenging Sen. John McCain, and other down-ballot campaigns. That's a major shift from the 2012 elections, when the party had 20% of the field staff they employ currently.

Top Democratic campaign experts contend that field organizing can't win or lose a state on its own, but it can move a few points along the margins, potentially eeking out an upset Clinton victory and helping upgrade the state party's voter-information file in the process.

"We're all really excited here,"Healy said. "We've been building a program for the past year now because we believe and we know that Arizona is on the precipice of something huge and that a statewide win really is possible under these circumstances."

Demographics are rapidly shifting in a manner which favors Democrats in future elections if the party continues to win Latino and Hispanic populations by wide margins, though perhaps not at a pace quick enough to turn the state blue.

The Cook Political Report projected in 2015 that non-college educated white voters are expected to comprise 4% less of the electorate that they did in 2012, while Latino voters are projected to represent at least 1% more than in 2012. Pew notes that Arizona has the fifth largest population of Hispanic voters of any state.

Democrats have a notable advantage: Arizona has been a reliably red state for so long that the state Republican party appears unprepared for a truly competitive race. A Politico article published in May noted that the state party at the time had just one field staffer.

Despite favorable polls, Clinton campaign officials caution that Arizona is still a long shot. Romney handily won the state in 2012 with a 10-point margin over President Barack Obama. Republicans also occupy most top elected offices, and the party has control of both legislative chambers.

Many Republican state officials agree that a Democratic victory in the presidential and senate race in Arizona would be an uphill climb.

Arizona GOP Communications Director Tim Sifert noted that it has a large base of volunteers that are helping man the party's 14 Arizona field offices. According to July Federal Election Commission filings, the state party reported more cash on hand than its Democratic counterpart, and isn't soliciting significant financial help from the Republican National Committee, a sign that party officials say projects confidence in its security.

"To me, it doesn't look like a serious investment. It's just pennies," Sifert told Business Insider of Clinton's investment. "I think they're just trying to go through the motions of making it look like Arizona could potentially be a swing state, and nobody here really sees it happening that way."

Sifert also noted that Democrats touted changing demographics for the past several elections, but lost numerous times.

"They talked about that in '08, they talk about it in 2010, and in 2012, and in 2014, and it just doesn't translate," Sifert said.

Still, many Democrats see the opposition to Trump in the state as an opportunity to build for future races. Some Democratic strategist point out that the state's voter file needs to be updated, and connecting with potential voters in the 2016 race could lay the groundwork to defend against a midterm sweep in 2018 if Clinton wins the White House.

"It's really a long term game,"Healy said. "It's really smart that the Clinton campaign took advantage of this opportunity. We always struggle in midterm years, and this is a way to help prevent that from happening in a way that it did in 2014."

NOW WATCH: Watch Joe Biden's full speech — the most effective Trump takedown delivered at the DNC

See Also:

SEE ALSO: Trump's plunge in polls has Republicans starting to panic about how it could affect others on ballot


Read Full Story

People are Reading