Mastering the art of storytelling to drive change.

‘Swing vote Steve’ could be the key in AZ

10 / 06 / 2020

I have a friendly acquaintance in Arizona named Steve. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1977-82. Steve vividly remembers the Iran hostage crisis happening while he was serving overseas.

Steve’s never voted before. He’s actually never been registered to vote. He’s 61 years old. This year, he registered. This year, he’s voting.

Arizona has reliably delivered 11 Electoral College votes to the Republicans over the last five elections. The last time the Democrats won The Grand Canyon State was Clinton v. Dole in ’96.

Steve’s politics are center-right. And like most people in this country, he’s totally fed up with the performance of the government — or lack thereof.

But the real reason he’s voting this year is because of Donald Trump. Steve thinks Joe Biden is a good man, and unlike many voters, he’s actually aware of a lot of the unglamorous things Biden’s gotten done in the Senate and as President Obama’s VP/liaison to the Congress for eight years.

But Joe Biden’s being on the ballot is not why Steve registered to vote this year. He is both heartbroken and furious about where Donald Trump has taken this country.

Interestingly, Steve is also sickened by the hypocrisy of the Senate Republicans on the SCOTUS nomination. He realizes the raw politics going on, and he’s not even necessarily against a conservative-leaning court — but the recorded lying from the likes of Graham, McConnell and the others make him angry.

Still, this is mostly about Trump.

Military officers and veterans vote at very high levels. When I asked Steve why he never voted before, he unabashedly said that he didn’t think his individual vote mattered that much. He just thought that the will of the electorate would carry whomever into office, and those representatives would do the best they could for the country — regardless of party.

But those days are gone. Steve has kids. Their future is at stake. So now a guy who grew up in a Republican household, who served his country in the military and who has been a moderate conservative for 40 years — is now taking action and casting a ballot.

Against Donald Trump.

He’s not alone. I know plenty of Republicans who are doing the same thing. I don’t think those voters are the ones who will really matter when it comes to swinging Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin (I’ve written about why I believe those states hinge upon the turnout of Obama voters who sat out or voted third party in ’16).

But the dynamics are different in Arizona. To go blue for the first time in a quarter-century, it’ll take a whole lot of new voters. In recent primaries, Arizona Democrats have been narrowing that gap. But even if this trend holds up for the general, it could be traditional Republicans like Steve — crossing the aisle — that make the difference in a tight race. 

Great talk, Steve. Thank you for your service. And for voting.