Why AP called the Arizona’s governor race for Katie Hobbs

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An election worker boxes tabulated ballots inside the Maricopa County Recorders Office, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The Associated Press called the Arizona governor’s race for Democrat Katie Hobbs on Monday after the latest round of vote releases gave her a lead that AP determined she would not relinquish.

The AP concluded that, even though Republican Kari Lake had been posting increasingly larger margins in vote updates from Maricopa County, she was not gaining a big enough share to overtake Hobbs and was running out of remaining votes.

Vote counting had gone on for days since the Tuesday election, as officials continued to tally massive amounts of late-arriving ballots.

As of Monday night, there were 43,000 remaining votes to count in Arizona, according to state officials, including more than 17,000 early ballots.

Hobbs gained prominence defending the state’s elections work after Joe Biden’s contentious win there over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential race. Lake, a former TV broadcaster, cast doubts on the outcome of that election without evidence.

Some Republican activists in Arizona had advocated that voters intentionally wait until Election Day itself to drop off their ballots. Some of this push was based on unfounded theories that fraudsters could manipulate voting systems and rig results for Democrats, once they had seen how many GOP votes had been returned early.

Experts had warned that such a last-minute crush of ballots could end up creating delays.

Lake made a number of media appearances complaining that Maricopa was “slow-rolling” results and — without evidence — called the state’s vote count “botched,” prompting Maricopa’s Republican elections chief to rebuke her. Regardless, Lake asserted her confidence that the results would turn in her favor.

Hobbs urged patience as the count continued.

Almost all of Arizona’s vote happens by mail, although some voters cast their ballots in-person at voting centers. Most Arizona counties don’t count ballots in-house, with officials instead bringing them to a central facility.

Early votes in Arizona can be counted as they come in, meaning that officials don’t have to wait until polls close on Election Day to start.

Arizona officials release their vote totals in batches. Much of the focus has been on Maricopa, the state’s largest county, with a total of 4.5 million residents — more than half of Arizona’s total population — and about 2.4 million registered voters.

But other big releases have been coming from Arizona’s next two most populated counties: Pima (home to Tucson) and Pinal, a large, suburban area just south of metro Phoenix.

Here’s the situation so far, starting with the most recent information:

MONDAY, NOV. 14

—MARICOPA: Maricopa County’s more than 71,000 votes released Monday favored Lake over Hobbs, 57 percentage points to 43.

—PIMA: A batch of 31,000 votes released Monday by Pima County broke for Hobbs over Lake by a margin of 58 percentage points to 42.

—PINAL: In a batch of nearly 19,000 votes from Pinal County, Lake had about a 28 percentage point edge on Hobbs.

After Monday’s vote updates, Hobbs led Lake by more than 20,000 votes overall.

SUNDAY, NOV. 13

—MARICOPA: Maricopa County’s Sunday night batch of about 97,000 votes broke for Lake by nearly 10 percentage points. That left about 94,000 votes left to tally in Maricopa.

—PIMA: On Sunday, Pima County released nearly 12,000 votes, which favored Hobbs over Lake by a 3-to-2 margin.

—PINAL: An 8,500-vote batch released Sunday from Pinal County favored Lake over Hobbs by about 10 percentage points.

SATURDAY, NOV. 12

—MARICOPA: On Saturday, Maricopa County officials released a batch of nearly 85,000 votes, which broke just slightly over half for Lake.

—PIMA: In a nearly 20,000-vote batch released Saturday by Pima County, Hobbs had a nearly 30 percentage point edge on Lake.

Officials also said they planned no vote release for Pima County on Sunday. Pinal County did not release vote totals on Friday or Saturday.

FRIDAY, NOV. 11

—MARICOPA: At around 10 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, officials in Maricopa released another batch of 75,000 votes, a tranche that provided enough information for AP to determine that Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly had won reelection against Republican Blake Masters.

But there still was not enough for AP to call a winner in the governor’s race. The batch favored Hobbs over Lake by less than 10 percentage points.

—PIMA: Pima County’s Friday votes totaled nearly 25,000 and favored Hobbs over Lake by nearly 2-to-1. Officials said they had only about 6,000 regular ballots left to verify on Saturday.

THURSDAY, NOV. 10

—MARICOPA: On Thursday, Maricopa County reported a total of 78,000 votes, in a batch that favored Hobbs by 10 percentage points.

—PIMA: Pima County released vote loads totaling about 32,000 on Thursday, favoring Hobbs by about 30 percentage points.

—PINAL: Pinal County’s Thursday vote release of about 8,500 favored Lake by around 10 percentage points.

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 9

—MARICOPA: On Wednesday evening, Maricopa County officials released their first batch of vote totals, figures that didn’t include any of the 275,000 early ballots received on Election Day. In all, Maricopa officials said they processed a record number — 290,000 — of these ballots known as “late earlies,” the counting of which has been known to hold up tabulation.

In all, Maricopa officials reported a total of 225,065 votes, favoring Lake by more than 30 percentage points.

—PIMA: Pima County’s Wednesday vote releases totaled nearly 83,000, with Lake outperforming Hobbs by more than 20 percentage points.

—PINAL: The Wednesday vote releases from Pinal County totaled around 75,000, favoring Lake by more than 20 percentage points.

TUESDAY, NOV. 8

—MARICOPA: On Election Day, nearly 837,000 votes came in from Maricopa County, favoring Hobbs over Lake by more than 10-point margins.

—PIMA: Pima County officials reported nearly 190,000 votes, in which Hobbs had a more than 2-to-1 edge on Lake.

—PINAL: Pinal County officials released nearly 38,000 votes, which were nearly evenly split between Hobbs and Lake.