City-Level Voting in Maricopa County, AZ

I was born in and grew up in Tempe, Arizona, but the places I visited, people I met, and areas I heard about during my childhood encompassed much of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. This region spans a college town with consistently one of the largest student enrollments in the US, one of the most populous cities in the country, wealthy suburbs, the most conservative city in the United States according to one study, and a town once called the most livable city in the country. There’s a lot going on.

Cultural and political perceptions of these different cities in Maricopa are fairly entrenched, but are not always tested. To address this, I try to provide concrete information about the political character of eight prominent Marciopa cities: Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. In order to come up with 2016 election data at the city level, I use Arizona precinct data and Maricopa County city district maps to select the precincts that make up each city. (Note: The maps are said to be for the 2012 election, but this shouldn’t matter too much, as I doubt the city lines changed much if at all. At the very least, I did not find a precinct name from the 2012 maps that did not appear in the 2016 precinct data.)

Below is voting-related data for each city on percentage vote for Clinton and Trump, Trump’s percentage point margin, voter turnout percentage, and total votes cast:


Unsurprisingly, Clinton won the college town of Tempe by a 25-point margin as well as the large city of Phoenix by 11.2 points. However, Tempe also had the lowest voter turnout of all the cities examined here, with just 56 percent of its residents voting.

In a bit of a surprise, the city of Mesa–once called the most conservative in the country–ranks as only the third most Republican in the Maricopa cities included here. Clinton received some of her lowest support there, but Trump only got his third largest vote percentage, making for a 16.8 percentage point victory. Perhaps Trump turned off more reliable Republican voters–being relatively less Republican could be 2016-specific–as the non-major party vote was second greatest here (at 9.4 percent, only below Tempe’s 9.6).

Gilbert stands as the most pro-Trump city in this group, which went red by a 19.2 point margin. However, it’s the very wealthy town of Paradise Valley that voted for Trump at the highest rate, with 56.5 percent of its voters choosing the now president-elect. The same town saw the highest turnout rate among this group at 76.1 percent; education and income are very strong positive correlates of turnout, so this makes perfect sense. Given that high socioeconomic status among whites is one of the strongest negative correlates of Trump support, this result strikes me as particularly surprising. Paradise Valley has far and away the highest median household income among these cities at $151,184 (next closest: Gilbert at $82,424) and the highest percent of people age 25+ with a college degree at 71.8 percent (next closest: Scottsdale at 54.2 percent), as well as the highest non-Hispanic white percentage at 89.9 percent. In other, similarly high-SES areas of the country, a much larger Democratic shift occurred. Perhaps party loyalty at the top of the ticket solidified in Paradise Valley instead.

City-Level Voting in Maricopa County, AZ

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