The last time a Democratic candidate to president of United States won in Maricopa County, in Arizona, Scottsdale didn’t even exist as a city. It was 1948 and the urban, demographic, economic and social transformation that has ended up converting this residential city and other similar cities in the metropolitan area of Phoenix in a mirror, a microcosm, of the United States. Also, as an emblem of one of the existential struggles of these presidential elections: the war of Donald Trump Y Joe Biden, Republicans and Democrats, by the ‘suburbs’ and, above all, by a fundamental part of their population: the moderate and independent women.
Today the streets of Scottsdale, between golf courses and areas with spas and high-end shops, they are full of comfortable mansions and houses with swimming pools and gardens, but also more and more of somewhat more modest residences, buildings with rental apartments and ‘malls’ and commercial corridors with more typical middle class businesses. Its population mostly remains blanca, but it is no longer 77% but 58% and the weight of latinos Y racial minorities, which is estimated to be the majority in the entire state in 2028. The upper-class inhabitants and retirees have been joined by more and more people with a high educational level and young professionals, many of whom are emigrants from states such as California or Illinois, that in their move also arrive with ideologies more progressive that the traditional conservatism that had historically made these residential metropolitan areas a republican fiefdom.
Those changes come from behind but politically they have accelerated dramatically since Trump won in 2016. Already then his advantage over Hillary Clinton in this county it was reduced to less than a third of what it had Mitt Romney on Barack Obama. Her tone and language, and her policies, contributed to the victory here in the 2018 legislative elections for a Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema, in the Senate race, something that had not happened since in 1996 Bill Clinton scored the 11 votes of the electoral college of the been (albeit without winning in Maricopa) to renew the presidency. 16% of women who had voted for the Republican in 2016 decided to give their vote to the Democrat.
Now Scottsdale is, like all of this Maricopa County that represents on a large scale the kaleidoscopic transformation that is also happening around other large southern cities such as Dallas Y Houston in Texas, or Atlanta in Georgia and Denver in Colorado; like all of arizona, definitely purple, the hinge color. And if the polls are right, you are about to become democrat blue.
Trump and fear
Enclosed in a diaphanous and outdated vision of the ‘suburbs’ as that white redoubt of movies and series in which women dedicate themselves exclusively to the home and family, Trump has opted for a message of fear to try to secure their vote. It has been months, especially since the protests against racial injustice in the US were reactivated, shaking within its message of “law” the nothing subtly racist threatens an “invasion” of these fictitious paradises if the Democrats win and reinstate anti-segregation plans that would create subsidized housing.
The message has permeated conservatives such as Bernadette Ellis, a 24-year-old professor who studies nursing and in a leisurely conversation shows total communion with all of Trump’s speech and ensures that the president “It does not instill fear, it only warns”. But it’s the same message that scares off other moderate Republican voters, used to the tolerance and the coexistence in its diversified neighborhoods, more concerned with education o la pandemic, out of respect for science or, simply, for the return to a more civilized and respectful politics.
Not a few have been moved to the Biden camp by the fact that prominent Republican personalities, such as John McCain’s widow, have decided this time to give their public support to the Democrat. And the turn is also palpable in the important advantage that the polls give in the momentous race for that seat that McCain occupied in the Senate. Mark Kelly, the former astronaut and husband of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was the victim of a shooting.
Trump’s message and policies have undecided, in addition, to women who historically would have been a Republican vote. They are people like Callie, 32, a mother of two, who comes from a family of mormons, one of the blocs that in Arizona have traditionally backed the Republicans. “If I could I would not vote for either of them,” he says, “but I will vote.” And when it comes to doing so, he will weigh, as he explains, that he has changed and evolved personally and in his beliefs, that he has “less influence from the family” and a desire to reduce the tension that, he regrets, has caused these be “extremely emotionally charged choices.”
Trump knows that votes like Callie’s can escape him and if only a couple of months ago he was sure that the women of the ‘suburbs’ would vote for him, now he implores them, almost desperately. “Can you do me a favor? Can I like it? I saved your damn neighborhood“He said a few days ago at a rally.
It is a message, which he will possibly repeat this Monday in his sixth visit to the state, that despairs Democrats like Kathleen, a septuagenarian who, sitting on the pleasant terrace of a cafe in a high-level commercial area in Scottsdale, confesses that in these four years she has cried “more than once” thinking about how “Trump is eroding so much progress that was made in the 1960s and 1970s on racial matters.” His friend Robyn Runbeck is also outraged, who believes that already “with the irruption of the Tea Party in 2010 a line was crossed and with Trump a cycle of behavior has been entered that is chaos. “
Caution before surveys
Runbeck is confident of a Democratic victory, but is cautious after the 2016 experience. “Clinton’s lead in the polls gave a false sense of security and ended in a loss that was sad but not a surprise and is entirely possible that it will happen again. “, He says. Ellis, Trump’s Catholic voter, also thinks that the polls this year are wrong, but in her opinion not picking up voices like hers, part of “a silent majority” that this time avoids publicly showing its support for the Republican even to friends to “avoid being judged.”
In all the conversations it is also palpable how the Polarization and the tense division of the country has reached the suburbs. Kathleen says that in her neighborhood banners and posters in favor of Biden and Kamala Harris They have been attacked and her friend Runbeck says she hasn’t put it in her front garden so they don’t lay eggs at her house. Ellis, from the other side of the ideological spectrum, tells a similar story. “I live with three friends and we don’t feel safe putting out a poster in favor of Trump and Pence,” she says. The young conservative, who in her conversation has assured that “there was no racism in the death of George Floyd” and has repeated Trump’s message that “there is more racism and violence in cities governed by Democrats”, has something else. “We’ve bought weapons. We are four girls living alone and we are afraid that there will be some kind of riots. “, She says.” It is sad that we have reached this point, “she adds.” Let’s just hope we don’t have to use them. “