Will ‘Swing State’ Arizona Vote Kennedy with Surge in Independent Voting?

Will ‘Swing State’ Arizona Vote Kennedy with Surge in Independent Voting?
American Values 2024 | March 1, 2024

As announced earlier in the week, American Values 2024 super PAC (AV24) has collected more than the required number of signatures, well ahead of the summer deadline, to put Kennedy on the ballot in Arizona. Voters in that state are turning their attention to independents.

AV24 funds The Kennedy Beacon.

Kennedy is required to submit 42,303 valid signatures between July 28 and August 17 in order to qualify for the ballot. The Secretary of State reduced that number on its website from 3% of all voters to 3% of independent voters on January 11, 2024. AV24 has gathered 82,485 signatures. There will be enough valid signatures to secure ballot access for the candidate.

Kennedy has qualified for the ballot in three states by his own efforts — Utah, New Hampshire, and Hawaii. AV24, the super PAC, has enough signatures to secure ballot access in both Arizona and Georgia. It continues to focus on signature gathering in the battleground states of Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia

Arizona is famously a powerful swing state, with the majority voting Republican. However, it has cycled in and out of being a swing state for the past two decades. In 2020, Democratic candidate Joe Biden won the state over Republican Donald Trump by just 10,457 votes, a very small margin. This led Trump to investigate and make the claim that Arizona had a corrupted election with many voter irregularities and fraud. Now that there has been an increase in independent voters in Arizona and a significant independent candidate is running, one might presume that this election will also be a memorable one.

Arizona, in particular, is experiencing a rebellion against the two-party system, like much of the US. As Niko House has noted in The Kennedy Beacon, more and more voters are registering as independents. Although Arizona is widely considered a predominantly “red state,” a large independent voting bloc has taken over in the Arizona electorate.

That rebellion is happening in Michigan as well, where earlier this week 100,000 Democrats selected “uncommitted” in their Democratic primary. The Wall Street Journal editorial board titled its February 28 editorial, “The Winner in Michigan is…. RFK?” They write, in part, “The dissatisfaction among the public is palpable, and a large slice of the electorate dreads having to choose in November between Mr. Biden or Mr. Trump as the less-atrocious option. Throw in RFK Jr. and a potential No Labels contender, and then hold on tight. If the two major parties nominate the leading but unpopular candidates, it is going to be a wild ride.”

The same holds true for Arizona.

A Rise in Independent Voters

Recent polls show that Americans are growing weary of the dominant two-party political system. According to the Pew Research Center, an online survey in 2023 revealed that about 28% of the public expressed unfavorable views of both parties. With each passing day, there is a consistent narrative replete with predictable contradictions and false promises. Furthermore, a New York Times/Siena College poll from October of registered voters in Arizona showed Kennedy polling with 26% support, just a few points behind Biden and Trump who both polled at 33%.

Even in rural areas of Arizona, with a typically Republican majority, residents are noticing changing demographics. “I’ve lived here [in Cottonwood, Arizona] since 1998, and when I first came here, people were still riding their horses to the grocery store. Now we’re the wine center of the Southwest,” said Beth Detwiler, an Arizona resident and teacher at a local high school. “People don’t want to cross over to becoming a Democrat,” she added. “They don’t want to vote for Joe Biden. But I think they are much more open, if Trump is to be the [Republican] candidate, to voting independently.”

In 2022, Arizona’s senator, Kyrsten Sinema, left the Democrat party, registering as an independent. Simena began her political career in the Green Party, until she was elected as a Democrat to the US House of Representatives in 2012. She was elected to the US Senate, again as a Democrat, in 2018. In a CNN interview, following the announcement of her switch to independent, Sinema said, “I’ve never fit neatly into any party box. I’ve never really tried. I don’t want to.” The senator feels that her transition to being an independent will “provide a place of belonging for many folks across the state, and the country, who also are tired of the partisanship.”

One of Sinema’s main reasons for leaving the Democrats was the competitiveness with Republicans. She found this rivalry to be counterproductive because “the national parties are spending a lot of time thinking about how to get one over on the other party. How to win in the next election. How to use a talking point or an issue, not to solve a problem or make a difference in people’s lives, but to win a point.” She suggested that as an independent, she would be free to focus on helping people in her state without being forced into partisan politics that focus on battling one another, trying to prove that one party is better than the other.

Leah Watson is a reporter for The Kennedy Beacon. She has contributed articles to the Rangeley Highlander and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

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