GovernorJan Brewer (R)
SenatorsJohn McCain (R)
Jon Kyl (R)
- 5 D, 3 R
- 1 through 8
Arizona is both old and young: It is the home of indigenous America’s oldest continuous community and also is one of America’s two fastest-growing states. The Hopi Indians, who thrived as shepherds on the plateaus east of the Grand Canyon, have been rooted in northeastern Arizona for more than 900 years. They have spurned Christianity since 1680, when they killed the local Franciscan priests and burned their churches. More recently, they have been involved in land disputes with the more numerous Navajo tribe. The Hopi are the oldest Arizonans, and the newest are moving in every day, into subdivisions rising from the empty desert east, north, and west of Phoenix, hemmed in only by dry riverbeds, upcroppings of mountains, and Indian reservation boundaries.
In the 2000s, Arizona has been one of the nation’s boom states. Its population grew 27% between 2000 and 2008, at a faster rate than any other state except Nevada (and in fact more rapidly than Nevada in the years from 2004 to 2008. Arizona started off the decade as the nation’s 20th largest state, but surpassed Indiana in 2007 and Massachusetts in 2008, to the rank of 14th, just behind Washington state. Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, has 61% of the state’s people and is the fourth-most-populous county in the nation. Some 934,000 people moved into the state from 2000 to 2008, one-quarter of them immigrants. That is a bigger influx than any state except Texas and Florida.
When it was admitted to the Union in 1912, just about no one would have envisioned the Arizona of today. For decades, its growth was attributable to the five Cs, memorialized in the state seal. The first C was copper: The dome of the state capitol is encased in copper, and one of Arizona’s leading public figures was Lewis Douglas—copper heir, congressman, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first budget director, and Harry Truman’s ambassador to Britain. The second C was cattle: As late as the mid-1960s, a dozen or so cattlemen ran the state Legislature. The third C was cotton: Carl Hayden, a Democratic senator from 1927 to 1969, concentrated on bringing public works to Arizona; his signal achievement was the Central Arizona Project, a massive irrigation program that brought cotton farms to the flatlands around Phoenix. The water also helped with the fourth C: citrus. The fifth C was climate, which kept people out of Arizona for many years.
Then came air conditioning. In the years after World War II, Arizona became less dependent on federal largesse, except for its military bases and defense contracts. Businessmen, lawyers, developers, and water companies, notably the Salt River Project, built Arizona based on the opposite of New Deal principles: with minimal government and precious little regulation of business, a welcoming of new technological ideas, and a shunning of cultural liberalism. Their political champion was Barry Goldwater, Phoenix City Council member and senator and the nation’s most recognizable conservative for much of the 1950s and 1960s. He helped to make Arizona solidly Republican, the only state to vote Republican for president in every election from 1952 to 1992.
Modern Arizona grew phenomenally, from 700,000 people immediately after the war to 3.6 million in 1990 and 6.5 million in 2008. For years, its growth was based on high technology and low taxes. Contrary to popular perception, this was not growth based on an influx of elderly retirees. Arizona may have Sun City, but just 13% of its residents are over 65, compared to 12% nationally. Neither was it based on subsidized farming, since cotton farms have been bought out by subdivision developers. The Valley around Phoenix lost nearly half its farmland between 1975 and 2000. It is explained partly, but only partly, by immigration. Arizona has attracted immigrants from Mexico and Latin America eager for entry-level jobs, so eager that many cross the lightly guarded border in the desert at the risk of death. Arizona still produces two-thirds of the nation’s copper. But more than anything else, the engine of Arizona’s growth was technology. Phoenix started attracting high-tech industries when Motorola built a research center for military electronics there in 1948. Big employers included Honeywell, Raytheon, Motorola, Intel, Avnet, and Northrop Grumman. Defense industries are important here. Arizona ranked No. 6 in Defense Department contracts in 2006. The state counts two Air Force bases and a Marine air station plus the huge Barry M. Goldwater Range, where many of America’s pilots have been trained. In Phoenix and Tucson, another major engine of growth was real estate. In the early 1990s, Arizona’s 10 biggest employers included four high-tech firms and four financial firms. In 2008, the largest employers included only two high-tech firms, while Wal-Mart and Banner Health led the list. But as housing prices started crashing in 2008, Arizona’s sizzling growth rate, second in the nation in 2006, fell to 22nd in 2007 and was 46th in August 2008.
In recent years, Arizona has become the focal point of illegal immigration. With stronger border enforcement in Texas and a fence going up near San Diego, the hilly Arizona desert in Cochise and Santa Cruz counties became a major entry point for illegal immigrants. Thousands streamed in over ranchlands, heading north to Phoenix or west to California. Locals formed a Minuteman organization, reporting illegal border crossings to authorities and demanding stronger enforcement by the federal government. Anger at the flood of illegal immigrants contributed to the passage of ballot propositions: Proposition 200 in 2004 denied certain welfare benefits and required government employees to report illegal residents, and Proposition 102 in 2006 denied punitive damages to illegal immigrants. Other ballot measures declared English Arizona’s official language and denied illegal residents in-state tuition at state colleges. These were characterized by some as signs of bigotry, but they were supported by at least 40% of Hispanics as well as majorities of Anglo whites.
Arizona’s congressional delegation was split on the remedy for illegal immigration. In 2007, Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl favored a comprehensive immigration bill creating a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for the country’s 12 million illegal residents, along with imposing tougher enforcement measures. But others in the delegation opposed it. When Congress failed to pass a bill that year, the Arizona Legislature stepped in and passed a law punishing employers who hire illegal immigrants, unless they used the federal E-Verify system to try to weed out illegal workers. Business licenses could be suspended for a first violation and revoked for a second. Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the bill in July 2007. It resulted in no prosecutions, but was upheld by the federal courts and, as Napolitano said, “Its benefit has been more on the deterrent side than the actual case side.” Fast-food franchisees put on the November 2008 ballot a proposition to effectively repeal the law, but it was defeated 59%-41%, and lost in every county. Meanwhile, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio continued to arrest illegal immigrants picked up in traffic stops and to work with federal immigration agents on deportation actions. Citizenship applications spiked upward, but there was also evidence that many illegal residents were leaving the state, as the number of construction jobs plummeted and the threat of punishment for employers began to have an impact. The Census Bureau reported a sharp drop in immigration in July 2008.
The collapse of the housing market and worsening national economy threaten Arizona’s long-standing experiment with a robustly free-market economy. State taxes were slashed in the 1990s and remain relatively low. Arizona has had a profusion of charter schools, and is the home of the for-profit University of Phoenix. Many towns use private covenants rather than public zoning to regulate who can move where. For example, children are banned in Youngtown, near Phoenix. The Salt River District allocates precious water. Phoenix is the No. 3 metropolitan area for women business owners per capita, and there is a burgeoning number of Latino-owned businesses. But there is a downside. Arizona also has one of the highest percentages of people without health insurance, and there is a wide income and education gap between affluent native newcomers and poor immigrants.
This wide-openness is reflected in its politics. Arizona has had women governors since September 1997, when Jane Hull succeeded Fife Symington. In 1998, Arizona became the first state to elect women to all of its top five statewide down-ballot offices. When Napolitano, elected governor in 2002 and 2006, resigned in January 2009 to become President Obama’s Homeland Security secretary, she was succeeded by Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer. It is one of the relatively few states with more registered Republicans than Democrats. Still, Democrats have become increasingly competitive. Bill Clinton carried Arizona in 1996, and Obama had hopes of doing so had the Republican nominee been anyone but native-son McCain. He and Kyl remain politically safe, but a majority of Arizona’s U.S. House members are Democrats. The Legislature seems solidly Republican—the state House has been in GOP hands since 1966. But Democrats have won the governorship in four of the last eight elections, though Brewer’s elevation has restored it to the Republicans.
Arizona’s 1912 constitution authorized ballot initiatives, and as on immigration, the voters have made important policy decisions for the state. A 1998 initiative bars the Legislature from cavalierly overturning them. Sometimes they are not what one might predict from the generally conservative bent of the electorate. In November 2006, Arizona became the first state to reject a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage, apparently because the initiative also banned benefits for domestic partners. In November 2008, a similar measure, shorn of the partner-benefits clause, passed, but only by 56% to 44%—not much more than California’s Proposition 8, which passed 52%-48%. And Arizona is, understandably, open to increased reliance on solar energy. It has long prided itself on its Wild West atmosphere, but Scottsdale politicians recently have pondered tearing down their “World’s Most Western Town” signs.
2008 Presidential Vote
2008 Democratic Presidential Primary
2008 Republican Presidential Primary
Arizona has tried every so often to make itself another Iowa or New Hampshire in presidential politics, with little success. In 1972, it had an early Democratic primary, and the improbable winner was Republican-turned-Democrat New York Mayor John Lindsay. His campaign went nowhere from there. In 1996, Arizona tried to set its primary on the same date as New Hampshire’s; when that failed, the state set it one week later. The intended beneficiary was Texas Republican Sen. Phil Gramm, a conservative running with the support of John McCain. But Gramm pulled out of the race a week before New Hampshire, and Arizona became a battleground between Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, who now had McCain’s support; conservative pundit Pat Buchanan, who urged his followers to “mount up and ride” after his narrow victory in New Hampshire; and magazine publisher Steve Forbes, who peppered the state with ads boosting his flat tax and attacking Washington politicians. The sight of Buchanan campaigning in a gunslinger costume with a black hat was a bit much, and he finished third, with 27%, and it was clear he had no chance to win the nomination. Dole finished second with 30%. Forbes won 33% and all the delegates, after which his campaign, like that of his fellow Easterner Lindsay a quarter-century before, went nowhere.
In 2000, Arizona tried again. McCain had irritated local Republicans enough that Gov. Jane Hull and other party leaders endorsed George W. Bush. McCain, however, won a solid victory in his home state in the February primary, but it was overshadowed by his victory the same day in Michigan. Arizona Democrats ran and paid for their own primary in March, because the state’s February date was outside the “window” permitted by national Democratic Party rules. They allowed voting via the Internet, and about 35,000 Arizonans mouse-clicked their choices, another 20,000 voted by mail, and still others voted by computer or paper ballot at the polls. But the Internet voting was not flawless, and the primary didn’t matter because Al Gore had already clinched the nomination. In 2004, a regular primary was held one week after New Hampshire, on February 3, the same day as contests in Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. Democrats John Kerry and Wesley Clark were the only candidates who targeted the state, and Kerry got 43% of the vote to Clark’s 26%. Only 603,000 voted in a state of 5.6 million people. In 2006, Arizona Democrats made a bid to have their state designated as the site for a caucus election soon after Iowa. But in August of that year, the Democratic National Committee picked Nevada instead.
So in 2008, Arizona settled for being another Super Tuesday state. The Republican primary was conceded to McCain, but having aroused the lasting hostility of some conservatives, he beat Mitt Romney by only 47% to 34%. Romney carried the 6th Congressional District (Mesa, Chandler) and rural Graham County, both with large Mormon populations. On the Democratic side, Hillary Rodham Clinton, with heavy support from Latinos, beat Barack Obama 50%-42%. Obama carried the upscale 5th Congressional District (Scottsdale, Tempe) and Coconino and Yavapai counties.
Native-son Barry Goldwater, born when Arizona was still a territory, carried the state in 1964, and it voted Republican in every presidential election from 1952 to 1992. But it has become more seriously contested since. Bill Clinton was competitive in 1992 and, with increased support in Phoenix and other metro areas, carried it 47%-44% in 1996. George W. Bush won here by only 51%-45%. He increased that victory to 55%-44% in 2004, as Kerry’s campaign thought about targeting Arizona and then thought better of it. In 2008, Obama’s campaign conceded the state to McCain, but he won by just 54%-45%, suggesting that Arizona, with its increasing number of Latino voters, could be a target state in 2012.
|111th Congress: 5 D, 3 R|
Arizona gained two House seats in the 2000 census, after gaining one each in the censuses of 1960, 1970, 1980, and 1990. It is projected to gain two more in the 2010 census, though if growth slows in 2009 and 2010, it may gain just one. In any case, it will have gone from two seats to nine or 10 seats in 50 years. After the 2000 census, redistricting was done not by the Legislature but by a five-member Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, a body created by ballot proposition in 2000. Two Republican and two Democratic legislators appoint four members, and the fifth, to be neither a Democrat nor a Republican, is picked by the other four. The commission held 66 hearings and meetings, and in October 2001 approved a plan. Democrats were disappointed because it didn’t create a competitive seat in the Phoenix area, but commissioners said such a district could be created only by drawing grotesque lines that, in their view, would be gerrymandering. Democrats challenged the plan in court for not creating enough competitive seats, and the case bounced around the courts for years. As it turned out, there were more competitive congressional districts than the Democrats, or the Republicans, had thought. Democrats captured the 5th and 8th districts in 2006 and the 1st District in 2008, and now have a majority of the Arizona delegation for the first time since 1966. The commission will redistrict the House districts again after the 2010 census. Tucson’s Pima County will be entitled to about 1.5 districts, a little more than it has now. Maricopa County will be entitled to six districts if Arizona gets a total of 10, and 5.5 if it gets a total of nine, compared to essentially five today.
Arizona’s redistricting issues often also involve its two major Indian tribes. The Hopi have had disputes for many years with the far more numerous Navajo, whose reservation surrounds theirs. The 2000 redistricting commission decided that the Hopi should have a U.S. representative who doesn’t also represent the Navajo. (Confusingly, most of the Hopi Reservation is in Navajo County and most of the Navajo Reservation is in Apache County.)