By Katie Spence
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—A total of 4,094 votes separated the candidates in the hotly contested Arizona governor’s race after a batch of results was reported on the evening of Nov. 9.
With over 74 percent of the votes counted as of 5:27 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs led Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake by one-fifth of a percent, according to Decision Desk HQ.
“Wow. We’re going to win big. Stay tuned, Arizona!” Lake tweeted early on Wednesday afternoon, before the new batch of votes was reported.
“Remaining ballots (Election Day & Early Drop-offs) are all breaking BIGLY for @KariLake. Just like we knew they would,” she added.
Early Election Issues
Earlier in the day, voting got off to a rough start in Maricopa County as officials said approximately 20 percent of voting centers experienced tabulator problems.
As a result, some voting locations experienced longer than expected wait times. But, by 5:30 pm, election official Bill Gates told reporters that most of the tabulation machines were back in working condition, and the voting deadline wouldn’t be extended, despite a GOP suit to extend hours.
Lake encouraged her voters to remain in line on her Twitter account, reminding them that if they were in line by 7 pm, they were legally allowed to vote.
In a bitter fight to the end, Hobbs and Lake blasted each other on the campaign trail and courted Arizona voters until election day. They also ran on wholly opposite views on how best to govern Arizona.
The race for Arizona’s governor has drawn the eyes of the nation, not the least because Republican Gov. Doug Ducey was term-limited and not eligible to seek a third consecutive term. Thus, there wasn’t an incumbent advantage going into the Nov. 8 election, and like what happened in 2020, Arizona’s governor could play a pivotal role in the 2024 presidential election.
Leading up to the election, The Cook Political Report rated the Arizona Governor Race as a toss-up between Lake and Hobbs. However, FiveThirtyEight polls showed Lake with a slight edge over Hobbs. In an OH Predictive Insights poll, for example, Lake led Hobbs by two percentage points, and Lake was up three percent in a Fabrizio, Lee, and Associates poll.
According to a report from the Pew Research Center, Republicans and Democrats are farther apart ideologically than at any other time in the past 50 years. The report specified that both parties have moved from the ideological middle, with Republicans adopting a more conservative stance and Democrats becoming more liberal.
That divide played out in the campaigns of both Lake and Hobbs. Lake called Hobbs a “convicted racist,” while Hobbs called Lake a “conspiracy theorist” and refused to debate her. In response, Lake repeatedly called Hobbs a “coward.” Still, Hobbs stuck to her refusal.
As a result, Arizona voters missed the opportunity to compare the candidates in a live debate and instead had to settle for contrasting campaign events and political statements on the candidates’ websites.
Opposite Plans for Arizona
Described as a “polished” Trump by critics, Lake is an Obama Democrat turned Trump Republican who is proud of never holding public office. But, thanks to her long tenure as a television journalist, Lake is well known in Arizona. She received Trump’s blessing during the Arizona primaries.
Hobbs is Arizona’s Secretary of State and served in Arizona’s State Legislature from 2011 to 2019. She’s received endorsements from NARAL/Arizona Right to Choose and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.
Regarding policy issues, Lake and Hobbs could not be more opposed. On immigration and the border, Lake wants to finish “the wall” and calls the current setup a “national security and humanitarian disaster.”
Hobbs wants to “pass comprehensive immigration reform” but calls the border wall an “anti-immigrant” policy that’s not a real solution.
On tackling inflation and the economy, Lake said she wants “tax relief” and to stand against Washington’s current “tax-and-spend” agenda. Echoing Trump, Lake proposed rolling back regulations and lowering taxes.
To tackle inflation and fire up the economy, Hobbs wants to expand on The American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress and signed by President Biden. She also wants to create a $250 state-level child tax credit and make diapers and baby formula tax-free.
Since the beginning of her candidacy, Lake has stood firm in questioning the integrity of the 2020 election. On her website, she lists recent pipeline and meat-plants hacks as problematic. Thus, she wants to remove all software equipment from the counting process. Lake further advocated for voter ID and regular audits.
Hobbs, however, called such audits “shams” on her website and said “dangerous forces” are trying to “silence the voices of Arizonans.” She said she’d fight against “voter suppression bills” and “protect the freedom to vote.”
Lake said she is pro-life and that “every life, starting at conception, is worth saving.” As governor, she said she would work to support mothers by putting resources into pregnancy centers and government programs that provide counseling, material assistance, care coordination, and housing support.
“I will ensure Arizona matches and exceeds all other states in supporting these centers and the amazing work they are doing,” Lake said.
Lake added that “it takes two to make a baby,” and she wants to hold fathers accountable by reforming Arizona’s laws to ensure fathers support the women they impregnated.
Hobbs, in contrast, is pro-choice and stated that on “day one, I will call a special session of the legislature to repeal the draconian 1901 abortion ban law.”
Hobbs said she would work “tirelessly” to increase access to abortion and use her veto power to oppose “restrictive and extreme measures” limiting the procedure in Arizona.