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What Arizona Voters Think Of The Presidential Candidates


This week, we have been hearing from voters in battleground states across the country ahead of the November election. And this morning, Jimmy Jenkins from member station KJZZ in Phoenix is taking us to Arizona.


JIMMY JENKINS, BYLINE: We are in downtown Phoenix. It is 110 degrees at the farmer's market, but there are free samples of kale chips.

Despite the heat, the open-air market has attracted a diverse crowd that's willing to chat politics while perusing the produce. Robin Meservey from north Phoenix is looking over piles of hot peppers and big, red heirloom tomatoes. She says the recent political conventions didn't really have much of an impact on her. And she's still undecided on who to support.

ROBIN MESERVEY: I really don't know who I'm going to vote for for president. I don't think we have very good options at all.

JENKINS: Meservey says she leans liberal on certain issues, like the environment, but she's also an abortion rights opponent. So she feels torn between the two parties. She says if the vote was today, she'd probably go with Trump.

MESERVEY: Which I thought I would never say (laughter) that I would do. But I might actually vote for him because he's kind of the devil you know as opposed to maybe the devil you don't know as a president.

JENKINS: Over by the artisan bread stand, Kevin Wood says he's made up his mind.

KEVIN WOOD: I'm an independent, but this year, it's a clear choice. Got to go one way. So we're going to go the Biden way.

JENKINS: Wood says the unifying messaging and stable temperament coming from Biden and the Democrats resonates with him. But despite his confidence in Biden, he's unsure about the election.

WOOD: I'm nervous to see the administration already assaulting and eroding confidence in mail-in voting. You know, that just kind of has my stomach churning.

JENKINS: Like more than 80% of Arizonans, Wood votes by mail. Most of the people I talked to at the market were aware of President Trump casting doubt on mail-in voting but said it hadn't shaken their faith in the system. But that's not true for all Arizonans.

LUIS AVILA: We know that people are afraid and that, you know, these messages are kind of, like, being distributed.

JENKINS: Political organizer Luis Avila says the attacks are confusing Latino voters.

AVILA: Even though we've gained so much trust from community members to actually partake in the process of voting by mail, we are seeing a regression, in some ways, in some of that confidence. And that's concerning.

JENKINS: Avila says while most Latino voters in Arizona have made up their mind, there is still a significant portion who are undecided.

AVILA: We're not hearing people, you know, fired up about Biden. But we're hearing people who are really, really concerned about having four more years for the Republican Party.



UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: So we are here to defend our freedom.

JENKINS: But four more years is exactly what Trump's base of voters in Arizona is hoping for. About a hundred people are at the state capital on Labor Day, protesting restrictions put in place on businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ralph Ruggiero is flying the American flag, a Don't Tread on Me flag, and he's got a hand-painted sign that says...

RALPH RUGGIERO: Liberty or death.

JENKINS: After seeing protests and looting taking place across the country, Ruggiero thinks we need a leader who isn't afraid to take charge.

RUGGIERO: He's my law-and-order president. That's who he is. And the other ones are for chaos and no order.

JENKINS: While Ruggiero says a Biden presidency would threaten the country, Paul Ollarsaba, Jr. doesn't think the stakes are quite that high. He was raised a Democrat but now supports Trump.

PAUL OLLARSABA, JR: We have people who have different values fighting for different things. And I believe that either way it goes, we'll adapt as a country and keep on rolling.

JENKINS: The latest polling has Biden up just a few points over Trump in Arizona but still within the margin of error. The campaigns don't have much time left to try and sway Arizona's remaining undecided voters. Early ballots will be mailed out October 7. For NPR News, I'm Jimmy Jenkins in Phoenix.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHALE FALL'S "SWAGGER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jimmy Jenkins