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The last time Arizona voted for a Democrat for president was 20 years ago to re-elect Bill Clinton. To find another example, you have to go back to 1952. But the Hillary Clinton campaign has started investing in Arizona. From member station KJZZ in Phoenix, Jude Joffe-Block reports on whether Arizona is in play.
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JUDE JOFFE-BLOCK, BYLINE: For months now, volunteers have been going door to door, talking to Democrats and independents all over Arizona.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And are you going to be voting for Hillary Clinton?
JOFFE-BLOCK: We're in the small city of Prescott on a street with towering pine trees. One voter who answers the door is Dawn Klekner, an independent. She says many people in this area are conservative gun owners. And it's not so easy to identify as a Democrat.
DAWN KLEKNER: I have people in my office saying, what are you registered as? And when you say independent, they're a lot more nice. But if you say - I've heard other people say Democrat. And they give them a stern stare.
JOFFE-BLOCK: Nevertheless, Democrats are making a hard push all over this state, even here in Yavapai County, where they have long been a quiet minority. Kari Hull is the field organizer for the area.
KARI HULL: I make the joke of, you know, having Democrats come out from under the rocks. It's time. Like, let's go. You know, let's all come together.
JOFFE-BLOCK: Hull is one of 160 paid Arizona Democratic Party staffers on the ground in the state. It's the biggest field operation Arizona Democrats have had, helped out by money from the national party. This month, Clinton started airing TV ads here, which raises the question, is Arizona a swing state this year?
HULL: It's super exciting because everybody's talking about Arizona - Arizona. So it's like, wow. There is hope for change.
JOFFE-BLOCK: Democrats are encouraged by a growing Latino vote here that opposes Donald Trump and polls suggesting a much tighter race than in years past. Ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana and raise the minimum wage could also boost Democratic turnout. Statewide, Republicans outnumber Democrats 35 percent to 30 percent. But most of the rest of the state - over a third of all voters - are independents.
ANDY BARR: Arizona's been one of these states that national Democrats look at investing in and never actually quite get around to it. What's - big difference this year is the Clinton campaign has actually put money down.
JOFFE-BLOCK: Andy Barr is a Democratic campaign consultant who's not working on the presidential race. He says Arizona isn't a key state for a Clinton victory. But it does present a promising opportunity for Democrats.
BARR: Donald Trump is performing so poorly in so many traditional swing states that it's freed up a lot of resources for other places.
JOFFE-BLOCK: By the same token, Barr says the Clinton campaign is likely to pull out of Arizona if her lead narrows in more important swing states. But Barr says there's a good reason for her to spend here. Arizona has a competitive Senate race with Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick challenging John McCain. Meanwhile, Democrats aren't the only ones trying to get out the vote.
DIANA: Hi, my name is Diana (ph). I'm a volunteer with the Arizona Republican Party. How are you this evening?
JOFFE-BLOCK: At Republican state headquarters in Phoenix, volunteers are phone-banking but, so far, just once a week and with fewer campaign field offices and paid staff compared to the Democrats. Arizona Republican Party spokesman Tim Sifert was unfazed to hear about that discrepancy.
TIM SIFERT: The Democrats have done so poorly in Arizona over the last 10 years. It's only natural that they would try to do something a little different. They're really going to have to step it up quite a bit.
JOFFE-BLOCK: Sifert says Democrats may have more money for the ground game. But Republicans have more registered voters and volunteers. Still, he acknowledges elections can be unpredictable. And Republicans here are taking nothing for granted. For NPR News, I'm Jude Joffe-Block in Phoenix.
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