Arizona (AZ), a Republican stronghold from 2016 and in previous presidential elections, was key to President Trump’s last election electoral win. Now, with votes closing in on 90 percent counted there, according to Thursday morning stats from the New York Times, the state is being called for Biden.
What happened is when the AP called the race in early hours of Wednesday, Fox News had already decided that there were not enough votes left to give Trump a win in the state late Election Day night.
Fox News’ early decision that, for example, Maricopa County, which went to Trump in 2016 and includes Phoenix, was going for Biden, and remaining or outstanding votes from, for instance, early mail-in voting are yet to be completed in their final tally.
Trump, usually a reliable ally of Fox News, realizing the massive conservative cable news giant became indispensable to his previous election run by after the 2016 primaries, when his candidacy was seen as more legitimate and Trump knew he needed to talk to network co-founder Roger Ailes, to gain talking time and support, criticized the election result call for the state by the Fox News desk.
“The AP,” following about three hours later, “called the race at 2:50 a.m. EST Wednesday, after an analysis of ballots cast statewide concluded there were not enough outstanding to allow Trump to catch up.” https://apnews.com/article/ap-explains-arizona-joe-biden-bb16f91b04456b2513f40436248eb62d
“The remaining ballots left to be counted, including mail-in votes in Maricopa County, where Biden performed strongly, were not enough for Trump to catch up to the former vice president.”
Maricopa County is where “Biden sealed his victory,” reported the AP. “Maricopa County accounts for 60% of the state’s vote, and Biden ran up huge margins there.”
From the Washington Post, Trump’s campaign team, which holds a huge amount of unprecedented voter detail profile data, “was livid when Fox News called Arizona for Biden.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/fox-news-election-night-arizona/2020/11/04/194f9968-1e71-11eb-90dd-abd0f7086a91_story.html?itid=lk_inline_manual_32
Fox anchor Bill Hemmer had wondered if AZ was called after 11PM on election night. Indeed, “the cable giant’s stridently independent decision desk had already bestowed a yellow check mark on the Grand Canyon State — putting it in Joe Biden’s column long before any other network was making that call.”
Sarah Sanders, a former White House press secretary, declared this a “premature call,” while Fox anchor “Bret Baier called upon decision-desk director Arnon Mishkin to explain himself on camera, because ‘we’re getting a lot of incoming here.’”
“I’m sorry, the president is not going to be able to overcome that seven-point lead the former Vice President has,” said Mishkin, in his own defense, referring to AZ and how the various “paths to 270” all led to a Biden win, at the time of his call.
Mishkin stood his ground, though made aware by then that the White House disputed the early call equated to a final result. The state is a main reason why Trump took an Electoral College voter victory, along with Sun Belt states such as Texas, and Florida, all of which have large, diverse Latino populations, which in Florida’s case, contributed to his victory there this year.
“You don’t have to apologize,” Baier said to Mishkin.
But Mishkin’s did apologize later for those very early calls, “pressuring other news agencies to make their call early, too.” However, when told the White House thought Trump could still win AZ, Mishkin continued to, as “a registered Democrat who works for Fox as a contractor,” “to apologize several times throughout the course of the night — not for being wrong, but for daringly delivering calls that were so early they initially looked suspect.”
Following the Fox News and AP decisions to call the state in Biden’s favor, Nate Silver, a poll aggregator at FiveThirtyEight, “declared that the Fox News call on Arizona ‘looms pretty large as a check against claims Trump might make that he’s winning,’” a claim the president referenced in relation to Mishkin in a 2 AM speech saying he was on track to win, a half-hour before the AP came out with Biden winning the state.
“Arnon was right,” anchor Martha MacCallum, of Fox News, said. “The White House was wrong.”
“Baier joked about Fox’s premature call of Florida in the contested 2000 election. But as soon as Fox called Arizona for Biden, that kind of banter came to a halt on Fox News — and all anyone could do was start to count the different paths to 270 electoral college votes,” concluded the Washington Post.
AZ saw a swing in 2018 to more Democrats representing the state, though usually a Republican stronghold. In specific reference to Trump’s immigration crackdown with the state’s Mexican border, earlier voters in 2016 had “ousted Republican Joe Arpaio, Maricopa County’s hardline sheriff, who built a national profile on his harsh treatment of immigrants.” This and signs such as Republican Sen. for AZ Jeff Flake coming out against Trump this year, seems to have provided a strong hold for Biden on a highly contested contest within the general election.
If any lesson can be learned, Trump is a sore looser, so we should expect all calls until courts intercede to say the vote is final to be potential for dispute, as he said he expects to bring late-counting early votes, like those sent by mail, to court over stopping their counting and legitimacy.