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Arizona is at the center of the political universe: From the Politics Desk

By 37ci3 Apr11,2024



Welcome to the online version of From the policy deskevening bulletin that brings you the latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill from the NBC News Politics team.

In today’s edition, we explore how Arizona is now at the center of the political universe. Plus, senior political analyst Chuck Todd explains why it’s getting harder for politicians to find the middle ground.

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The biggest battles of 2024 converge in Arizona

By Alex Tabet, Adam Edelman, Bridget Bowman and Von Hillyard

The Arizona Supreme Court decision 160 years old, almost common abortion ban sent a shock to the state and consolidated its place in the center of politics in 2024.

Campaigns: Arizona and its 11 electoral votes will once again be critical in the 2020 presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump after the state split by just 10,000 votes. To that point, Vice President Kamala Harris announced her visit to Arizona on Friday. The abortion decision of the Provincial Supreme Court was announced.


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Voters will decide critical races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, with both chambers closely divided. Republican Kari Lake and Democratic Republican Ruben Gallego, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2022, are already in a heated race to replace independent Sen. Kyrsten Sineman. And GOP Reps. David Schweikert and Juan Ciscomani are bracing for uphill battles to keep their crushing districts. (Lake, Schweikert, and Ciscomani all were condemned At the time of the abortion decision of the Provincial High Court Trump said gone too far.)

Republicans are also trying to hold on to state legislative majorities that couldn’t be thinner: a 31-29 advantage in the state House and a 16-14 seat advantage in the state Senate.

Issues: One correction ensuring abortion rights Arizona’s constitution will also likely be on the November ballot, putting a serious choice directly before voters. Of 11 states Abortion could be on the ballot this fall, with Arizona arguably the most competitive. And after the state Supreme Court ruled on what is now one of the strictest abortion bans in the nation, the ballot measure could potentially drive an influx of otherwise unaffiliated voters to the polls.

Moreover, the state still has heated election procedures and years of battles over immigration.

Demographics: All of this comes against the backdrop of Arizona’s rapidly changing demographics, which highlight many of the major trends sweeping US politics.

According to the Census Bureau, Arizona has the largest share of the Latino population of any major battleground state; In Maricopa, a former Republican stronghold where more than 2 million people voted in 2020 and Biden narrowly won, the nation’s largest battleground state; increasingly, rural districts affiliated to MAGA are competing in the other direction; and Arizona State University, the nation’s largest university with in-person enrollment.

In short, Arizona will show how different groups grapple with the most pressing issues in the 2024 election and could decide the balance of power in Washington next year and beyond.

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Politicians need a middle ground to win. They are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

Analysis by Chuck Todd

It is not easy to lead a political party today. In a world where political positions are binary, where nuance is expected to be disallowed, trying to come up with a one-size-fits-all position, whether on Middle East politics or reproductive rights, is a difficult task.

One can no longer speak from a factual point of view to the “spirit” of a political position. Biden has long been pro-Israel, but that hasn’t bought him much time with a Democratic base that is increasingly skeptical of the Israeli government’s ability to wage a just war.

Which brings me to Trump’s attempts to soften opposition to the nation’s increasing restrictive abortion laws.

Ironically, Trump’s controversial position should, in theory, not be controversial in the GOP. Trump is simply supporting what the party has said it supported for decades before the Supreme Court’s 2022 Dobbs decision: Leave it to the states. But abortion conservatives want to go further with the federal limit. As is now abundantly clear, simply returning the decision on reproductive rights to the states was not the goal of the anti-abortion movement before Dobbs. The goal was to restore access to abortion by any means necessary.

But saying the last sentence directly as I wrote it is unpopular. If the GOP had entertained the idea of ​​rolling back more direct access instead of hiding behind a states’ rights position, it likely would have had to reckon with its unpopular position on abortion sooner.

But here we are, and Trump is learning the hard way that there is no middle ground on abortion within the GOP, at least not in a post-Dobbs world. The country is quickly divided into two camps on abortion rights: pro-access and anti-access. Pre-Dobbs, you could argue, there was a middle ground of abortion access until viability, which is around 24 weeks. But Dobbs took a difficult middle ground, shifting the policy boundaries of what was possible.

Both candidates would like to avoid talking about Gaza, and Trump would like nothing more than to shut down the debate on abortion. Ultimately, I see the Dobbs decision as existential — and it’s likely a document over many other divisions in this country, because many affected voters see abortion rights as fundamental. And when one issue is central to the way people live, they will vote on many other issues.

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🗞️ The best stories of the day

  • 👀 Flying South: Facing threats to his job from the right, House Speaker Mike Johnson will travel to Mar-a-Lago on Friday to discuss “election integrity” with Trump. More →
  • ☑️ Veepstakes: Independent presidential candidate Cornel West has announced that Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan-African Studies at California State University in Los Angeles, will be his running mate. More →
  • 3️⃣ Third-party threats: The New York Times reports that Trump’s allies are discussing ways to promote third-party candidates such as West, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Jill Stein to hurt Biden in the primary battleground. More →
  • 💸 Rivals team: Ron DeSantis said at a private retreat that he plans to help donors and supporters raise money for Trump’s campaign, though it remains unclear whether the former president’s team will seek help from the Florida governor. More →
  • ⚖️ Verdict: Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, was sentenced to five months in prison last month after pleading guilty to two counts of perjury in testimony in the former president’s civil fraud trial. More →
  • ⬇️ “About Life Support”: Senate Republicans are closing in on sinking the child tax credit bill that passed the House earlier this year with a bipartisan majority. More →
  • 📱 Main influencer: Biden’s recent battleground state tour has focused on smaller, more intimate events rather than large rallies. The goal was not to gather large crowds, but to create digital content to reach voters disaffected with his presidency. More →

For now, that’s it from The Politics Desk. If you have feedback – like it or not – send us an email politicsnewsletter@nbcuni.com

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