What the Presidential Preference Primaries Tell Us About the November Election

As you likely know, the presidential preference primaries happened last week. Yes, there are no real cliffhangers regarding the results; Donald Trump won on the Republican side and Joe Biden won on the Democrat side. But even while the high-level results were not a surprise, that’s not to say that there weren’t any tea leaves to read from the results.

At the time of writing, there are still votes to be counted, as to be expected, but a couple general themes show up. First, there is a reason to be cautious about Trump’s ability to coalesce the Republican base. He pulled in 79% of the vote, which obviously is a resounding victory, but considering that he is the only current candidate (with Nikki Haley having withdrawn), that is a slight reason for concern.

Haley received over 110,000 votes, which is more than enough to sway any relatively tight statewide election in Arizona. How many of those are “Never Trumpers”, it’s impossible to tell, but it’s not unreasonable to think that a good number of them are.

On the Democrat side, Biden pulled in nearly 90% of the vote; no huge surprise as his only “serious” opposition was Marianne Williamson, who earned about 16,000 votes. There was no strong “anyone but Biden” option on the left; a testament to the ability of the DNC to coalesce around those currently in power and push out anyone who might usurp it. However, this strength may be their biggest weakness this year, as many believe that a younger candidate would have a better chance of taking on Trump.

Probably the most damning aspect of the uphill battle that Democrats face however is seen in the raw vote total. At the time of writing, Biden has earned around 374,000 votes, while Trump has earned around 490,000. With both races having similar uncompetitive dynamics, Republicans flexed their voter registration advantage and faithful voting practices. As referenced before regarding Nikki Haley, 116,000 votes is a huge difference for a tight statewide race.

So again, as it often does in this state, it comes down to the biggest party in the state: those who choose no party…registered Independents. They can certainly overcome this deficit and push Biden to victory like they did in 2020, but after everything they’ve seen from the first four years, will they? It’s a fool’s errand to predict so far out, but at this point, it’s not looking probable.