Katie Hobbs extends lead over Kari Lake in Arizona governor race Who will win the remaining votes?

Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic nominee for governor, saw her lead over the Republican challenger increase slightly on Thursday, although the number of votes to be counted was significant enough to promise another seesaw in the race’s margins.

A big open question is who those remaining votes will favor, which is somewhat unpredictable in the purple state. In 2020, they favored Republicans. But in 2018, they propelled Democrats, including Hobbs, to razor-thin national victories.

It could take days – or longer – to know the answer.

Election Reporting: Live News Updates | Arizona election results

Hobbs, Secretary of State and former lawmaker, saw a huge lead of more than 180,000 votes when the first counts were released Tuesday night. That dwindled to a few thousand above GOP challenger and former TV news anchor Kari Lake early Wednesday morning, but widened somewhat later in the evening.

It widened the gap to just over 1 percentage point by Thursday night as counties continued to report early vote counts, including a large crowd in Maricopa County. The race’s lead, at least for the time being, proves the political forecasters right, who have described the race as a toss-up.

Over 2 million votes cast by Arizonans have already been counted, and more than 550,000 are yet to be counted, according to information gathered by the Arizona Secretary of State’s office. The majority of those are in Maricopa County, where the ballots tallied so far have favored Hobbs by about 4 percentage points.

Major updates on recounted votes are expected every evening, and officials in the state’s most populous counties — with the most outstanding votes — have said their work could take days. Smaller updates could come from more rural counties later in the day.

Given the closeness of the race, it also means media outlets like the Associated Press may not declare a winner for days or more.

Will it be repeated in 2020 or 2018?

If the voting patterns of 2020 continue and there are signs they will give Lake’s strong support among voters who cast ballots in person on Election Day, she could push her to the lead when the remaining ballots cast on Tuesday are counted .

However, some political observers are reluctant to accept this, noting that voting behavior in 2020 has been turned on its head in unprecedented circumstances, namely fear of voting during the COVID-19 pandemic and Donald Trump’s distrust of electoral systems .

Reading tea leaves based solely on the election two years ago can ignore a decade of history before that, said Tony Cani, a Democratic adviser who worked on Biden’s successful 2020 campaign. Like 2020, this race could offer its own surprises.

“I think the question is, are these ‘late earlys’ going to be more like 2020 or more like 2018?” Cani asked. “There are all the assumptions that people make about timing and I just don’t think we can make those assumptions.”

“Late early” ballots generally refer to ballots cast on Election Day or received by polling officials in the days immediately preceding.

Most Arizonans receive ballots in the mail and can return them through a mailbox, drop box, or by dropping them off on Election Day. Any votes returned just before Election Day will take longer to be counted because officials have to verify signatures and process the ballots themselves. Those are the remaining points that could change the race leader in the coming days.

In 2020, those ballots fell in favor of Trump, although ultimately they were insufficient to overcome President Joe Biden’s early lead. Looking back at 2018 shows a different pattern.

In the US Senate race that year, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema initially trailed GOP rival Martha McSally on election night. In the tense days that followed, the candidates exchanged clues until the early ballots were tallied, ultimately leading Sinema the Democrat to victory.

Hobbs was also on the ballot that year, running for her current position as secretary of state.

Her race against Republican Steve Gaynor was so close that the Associated Press initially — and incorrectly — called it for Gaynor, who held a lead on election night. But like Sinema, Hobbs recovered after the late-received early ballots in the state’s urban centers were added to the count.

It was 10 days after the election that Gaynor conceded and Hobbs declared victory, won by a razor-thin margin of 20,000 votes, less than 1 percentage point.

All eyes are on the Arizona governor’s race

The race for Arizona’s next governor, one of the most closely watched in the country, embodied the national dynamic of the midterm, with GOP hopeful Lake championing economic and border issues while Hobbs campaigned for fighting election lies and protecting people implemented abortion rights.

Lake, 53, used her decades in front of the camera to appeal to Arizonans, many of whom already knew her, and rose to prominence by allying herself with false claims about widespread voter fraud.

Hobbs, 52, drew on her national profile in defending the 2020 state election to advance her bid for governor. As Secretary of State for Arizona, Hobbs oversees the election and stands behind the governor.

Lake’s unconventional and instinct-driven campaign, in which she served as both contestant and campaign manager, thrived in the spotlight. Traveling the state speaking to constituents in what she often referred to as an interview, she portrayed herself as an agent of change and a fighter against everything from border cartels to the media.

After a decade of electoral victories, Hobbs ran a more traditional campaign, spending heavily on advertising to get her name and ideas in front of voters. Her bid was notable at times for his fumbling, particularly for handling controversy, including discrimination cases Hobbs was involved in when she was Senate leader, and her refusal to debate Lake.

Hobbs instead focused on her experience and defense of electoral processes, often portraying the race as a choice between “reason and chaos” and a vote for them as necessary to preserve democracy.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, will leave office in January, handing over the helm of the state to Arizona’s fifth female governor, regardless of whether Lake or Hobbs was ultimately declared the winner.

The gubernatorial race saw unprecedented spending and fundraising, thanks in part to the tight competition itself and Arizona’s rising prominence in the national spotlight.

Hobbs outperformed Lake ahead of the November election and also spent her on the cycle at $12.1 million compared to $8.6 million. But taking into account outside money trying to influence the race, Hobbs’ bid increased by $24.6 million compared to Lake’s $19.4 million, according to the latest financial reports.

Reach reporter Stacey Barchenger at [email protected] or 480-416-5669. keep following her Twitter @sbarchenger.

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This article originally appeared in Arizona Republic: Arizona Governor’s Race Results: Will Lake or Hobbs Win the Remaining Votes? Katie Hobbs extends lead over Kari Lake in Arizona governor race Who will win the remaining votes?

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