If you believe that whoever is first on the ballot has the edge, then Rick Santorum will win the state’s March 22 presidential preference primary.
And Roque De La Fuente will get more Democratic votes on March 22 than anyone else.
Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan used a lottery machine with ping pong balls on March 15 to decide the ballot order for Republicans, Democrats and Green Party candidates.
Following Santorum on the ballot for Republicans will be political unknown Tim Cook, followed by Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, Gov. John Kasich, former Gov. Jeb Bush, business leaders Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina and former Gov. George Pataki. Rounding out the GOP ballot are Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Gov. Chris Christie and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Of the six Democrats, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will appear fifth, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders third and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley fourth.
The lotto-style machine was designed to ensure that everyone got an equal chance of topping the list — and getting whatever advantage comes with that.
But if that were the case, then Donald Benjamin would have won the state’s 2012 Republican presidential primary.
That year there were 23 GOP contenders. That was also a year where anyone could self-nominate to be a presidential candidate.
A different system of picking ballot order put Benjamin first. He ended up with 223 votes.
Instead, the victory went to Mitt Romney with his 239,167 ballots in his favor. And Romney was ninth on the list, behind not just unknowns like Benjamin but also Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
There was no Democrat primary that year: The party decided that, with an incumbent already in the White House there was no need to ask Arizona voters who they wanted on the ticket.
Secretary of State Michele Reagan acknowledged that Arizona’s primary comes after several major contests in other states. And in prior years many contenders have not bothered to spend much time — if any at all — wooing Arizona voters.
But she said that, given the number of contenders it is possible the field may still be quite large by March 22. Reagan said that could make candidates take an interest in what happens here.
The key, she said, is that many states apportion delegates based on what percentage of the vote each gets.
“Arizona’s not like that,” Reagan said. “If you win the state, you get all the delegates.”
And that, she said, makes what happens here important.
One question that remains is what role, if any, independents will play in the race.
Unlike regular partisan primaries, Arizona does not permit independents to cast ballots in the presidential preference contest. But Reagan said they can — if they reregister on or before Feb. 22 with one of the three parties selecting candidates that day.
“I don’t like to tell independents what they should and shouldn’t do, of course,” she said. . But Reagan said they are free to change party affiliation, vote on March 22, and then regain their independent status afterwards.
Reagan said there already is some evidence that independents are choosing to make that switch to have a voice at least in the GOP contest.
Libertarians are not participating in the race, having opted to choose an alternate method of selecting their presidential contenders.
Here is the ballot order as selected on Dec. 15:
Roque De La Fuente
– Includes information from The Associated Press