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Arizona flexes its muscles in presidential politics

Arizona US flag painted on old vintage brick wall

Hey, Arizona voter: Feeling powerful?

You should.

The financial advice web site WalletHub did some computations.

Its experts considered how close the race was in each state.

Then they looked at the number of electoral votes.

And, finally, they divided the tally by the number of adults, representing eligible voters. Fewer voters translates into each vote that is cast being worth more.

What they found put Arizona at the top of the heap.

Only Iowa and Alaska, other states where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump also are competitive, came close.

Whether it’s the survey or something else, the Clinton campaign clearly is paying attention. And it smells victory in this traditionally red state.

Bernie Sanders is set to stump for his former primary foe in Tucson and Flagstaff later today.

Chelsea Clinton comes to Tempe Wednesday to make the case for her mother to students at Arizona State University.

And Michelle Obama, potentially the most powerful Clinton surrogate, just scheduled an Arizona trip for Thursday.

That’s not all.

With early voting now underway, the Clinton campaign just announced it will put another $2 million into advertising that would benefit not just the presidential nominee but could help Democrats further down the ticket.

“This is a state that would really foreclose a way for Donald Trump to win the White House,’’ Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said in a conference call Monday with reporters.

Those efforts, along with another possible visit from Clinton herself, could provide the bump needed.

Pollster Earl de Berge of the Behavior Research Center said it’s not so much that visits by the candidates or their stand-ins are going to change a lot of minds. Instead, it’s a recognition that the key to winning Arizona is getting out the vote.

One issue of note here, he said, is whether Hispanics will finally vote in closer proportion to the population.

Various groups have moved to get Hispanics registered over the years. And that effort may have been bolstered by Trump’s comments about Mexicans as rapists and criminals as well as his focus on building a wall along the nation’s southern border.

But history has shown that does not always translate to actual votes, not just in Arizona but elsewhere.

The Pew Research Center noted that four years ago there were 23.3 million eligible Hispanic voters in the country. The number who actually cast ballots, however, was less than half of that.

And a separate report by Latino Decisions found that in 2012 just 40 percent of eligible Hispanics actually voted, compared with 62 percent of Anglos.

“Their registration and participation is very important to what happens here in Arizona because they are now a much more significant portion of the overall electorate,’’ de Berge said.

Pew estimates Hispanics make up 22 percent of current eligible voters in Arizona.

The Democrats’ optimism got another shot in the arm Monday with release of a poll by the political consulting firm of Highground. It found Clinton the choice of 38.5 percent of 400 likely voters surveyed this past Friday, versus 36.5 percent for Trump, though the margin of error is 4.5 percent.

While it’s no surprise that Clinton has a 24-point lead in Pima County, she also finds herself 5 points ahead of Trump in Maricopa County. Trump, by contrast, has a 22-point edge in the rest of the state.

All that feeds back into the role that WalletHub says Arizona voters could play in deciding who will be the next president.

WalletHub starts with the chances a state is in play using numbers from FiveThiryEight, which looks at polling from across the nation. A state that is 50-50 Clinton-Trump would rate 100 points; a state that is clearly going one way or the other is zero.

Arizona rates 98.

That is multiplied by the number of electors in the state. Arizona has 11.

And then, to determine how much the weight of each voter counts, WalletHub divides that by the total population 18 and older.

Mix that all up, move the decimal point right by six places, and you end up with a “voter power score’’ of 207.05.

Polls in Iowa also show a close race, as do those from Alaska. But Iowa has just seven electoral votes; Alaska has three.

So who’s at the bottom? California, with 55 electoral votes, lots of residents who can go to the polls — and with virtually no chance Trump will take the state. It scored 0.37, followed by predictably Democratic Maryland, the District of Columbia, New York and Massachusetts.

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