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What Did We Learn From Arizona's Primary?


The Brussels attacks came on the same day that three American states expressed their preferences for president. Of the states in play, the biggest was Arizona - won by Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, and among Republicans by Donald Trump. Arizona is a border state where immigration is a major issue. And we've reached Richard Herrera of Arizona State University to talk about that.

Good morning, sir.

RICHARD HERRERA: Good morning.

INSKEEP: How much were people talking about immigration before this vote?

HERRERA: They were talking about it quite a bit, both because of the rhetoric of the campaign and also because one of the leading endorsers of Donald Trump's campaign was Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is famous in Maricopa County as being a leader in the immigration control efforts in Arizona - and also endorsed by former Governor Jan Brewer, who when she was governor signed Senate Bill 1070, which was also aimed at curbing immigration in Arizona.

INSKEEP: Now, Donald Trump has won plenty of places. Do you think the endorsements made a difference in Arizona?

HERRERA: I think it sort of energized some of his voters. I think there was a lot of early voting in Arizona - over 300,000 early votes on the Republican side. So I think he already had quite a bit of momentum going into the election and that just kind of continued into the day of the election.

INSKEEP: You know, I'm curious how people talk about Donald Trump's famous wall in Arizona, where there is a border and where there's already a lot of fencing. And Trump has made this promise to build a, quote, "great wall" that he has said at various times would be very high and so forth. What do people think about that?

HERRERA: Well, I think it's kind of mixed. I think Republicans, especially in Maricopa County, certainly that resonates with them. Depending on where in the state and who you're asking, though, you get different kinds of responses. So for example, if you go down to some of the counties on the border, you'll get a mixed response from some of the people who live down there, especially some of the Latinos in those areas, who don't see that as a real solution because they live daily with border traffic and there are people from both sides of the border going back and forth on a daily basis.

INSKEEP: How much is Arizona changing demographically?

HERRERA: It's changing, I think, quite a bit. The current estimate is that - for example, the eligible population among Latinos in Arizona is up to about 22 percent. So that's been a growing trend, as we know. But that's changing the demographics of the state. It certainly is a fast-growing state as well.

INSKEEP: And of course Latinos up to now have been a heavily Democratic constituency, which leads to this question. Democrats the last several elections have repeatedly thought maybe this is the time they can win Arizona in a presidential election, and they don't quite - why not?

HERRERA: The candidates who run on the Republican side have a very strong base. Their voters tend to turn out on Election Day. Democrats, less so. And also Latino voters also don't turn out in quite the same numbers as they could to make an effect on the election. It's also the case that the largest portion of voters in Arizona is no preference, and they do tend to lean towards Republican Party candidates. So when you put all that together, I think the Democrats have had a tough road in trying to get out the vote. Now, there has been some energy in this election, and in fact the turnout in this primary election was a bit higher than it has been in the past on both sides but surprisingly so on the Democratic Party side.

INSKEEP: You know, there's been a big national effort to register specifically Latino voters. Have you seen signs of that in Arizona?

HERRERA: Absolutely. So the Univision efforts to register up to 3 million new Latino voters is active in Arizona as it is another states. And the aim is to try to get younger Latino voters - who make up about half of the eligible population among Latino voters - registered and ready to vote on Election Day. And I think those efforts are continuing, yes.

INSKEEP: Richard Herrera is associate director of the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University.

Thank you, sir.

HERRERA: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.