Three Things to Watch in Arizona's Special Election
We published a more extensive preview of the special election in Arizona's 8th District, to replace Democratic ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, earlier this week. The polls close at 10 p.m. Eastern time tonight, and soon after we will know whether Democratic ex-Giffords aide Ron Barber or repeat Republican nominee Jesse Kelly will fill the vacant seat in the House of Representatives. Here are a few items to think about as the results start rolling in.
-- The early voting margin: The special has inspired unprecedented levels of early voting. Over 132,000 votes have already been cast, and analysis of the returns suggests that Democratic ballot returns have outpaced their levels of registration in the district, a good sign for Barber. When Giffords beat Kelly in 2010, she actually lost the election-day balloting but built a lead in early voting. Republicans expect more of their voters to turn out today, but if Barber has a large margin in the first reports, he stands a great chance of succeeding her in Congress.
-- Results in the new district lines: Today marks the last day that the boundaries of the 8th District matter, for political purposes. The November general election will take place under slightly altered lines in the renamed 2nd District. That seat loses the portions of Pinal and Santa Cruz counties in the current district along with portions of Pima County, including a chunk south of the San Xavier Native American reservation. If tonight's returns are close, approximating what the results would look like under the new, more Democratic-leaning lines will provide an interesting look at the landscape for November.