In Democrat-dominated Pima County, the number of votes for Hillary Clinton in this year’s presidential election hides a lesser known truth — that Republican Donald Trump received fewer votes here than Mitt Romney did four years ago.
Clinton never set foot in Pima County during the just concluded 2016 presidential campaign, but Tucson proved to be a stronghold for the former secretary of state.
She received about 13,000 more votes than Barack Obama did four years ago. At the same time, Trump lost roughly the same number of votes here — about 13,000 — when compared to Romney four years ago.
In Pima County, Clinton received 214,666 votes compared to Trump’s 161,090.
The map of which areas went for Clinton showed her winning in Tucson’s metro core — with Trump getting just 1 of every 5 votes cast in some midtown precincts. Trump’s strength was primarily in the outlying areas.
Trump kept the rest of the state Republican, with supporters helping him gain more than 7,000 additional votes statewide than Romney received in 2012.
One explanation of the statewide results is simply numbers: Arizona has grown in the last four years, with 352,503 more registered voters now than four years ago.
Bill Beard, the Pima County Republican chairman, offers a slightly different observation.
While some voters were turned off by the Republican candidate, he appealed to others who had grown weary of the established party insiders.
Given the choice of a true outsider, Beard believes voters were willing to vote for Trump.
He describes a “new crop” of voters this election brought out, saying they were a dedicated part of the presidential campaign, from attending political rallies to volunteering to go door-to-door.
While both candidates were unpopular, Beard said, Democrats statewide stayed home while Republicans voted.
“There was less enthusiasm on the left than there was on the right,” Beard said.
“There was a surge in Independents and Republicans who haven’t voted in a long time.”
Pima County Democratic Party Chairwoman Jo Holt said Democrats also pushed hard in Southern Arizona to get out the vote, but conceded it was difficult to get the message out to rural parts of the state.
“It was always a challenge to get out the vote,” she noted.
The Democratic Party also courted Hispanic voters, noting the party for the first time in recent memory had a dedicated staffed office on the south side of Tucson.
She noted that Dolores Huerta, famed labor leader and civil rights activist, came to Tucson to invite the Hispanic community to vote for Democrats.
Despite the loss, Holt said local Democrats would get back to work in the new year reaching out to voters.