Redistricting history and process
Since being admitted as a state in 1912, Arizona has grown dramatically. It has expanded from having a single representative as recently as 1943 to having nine since 2013. The 2020 Census marked the first reapportionment process since the 1950 Census to not result in the state gaining a congressional district.
Arizona utilizes an independent commission to draw its congressional and legislative districts. The five-member body is comprised of two Democrats, two Republicans, and one independent. A simple majority is needed to make decisions.
Because of the small size and single independent, decisions are frequently made on purely party-line votes. The maps utilized during the 2010s were backed by independent Colleen Mathis and the two Democrats on the commission. In contrast, the congressional map that will be used in the 2020s was unanimously backed by the commission.
Arizona is a diverse state with a large, growing Hispanic population and a diverse urban core in Phoenix. Two of its nine congressional districts (AZ-03 in Phoenix and AZ-07 in Tucson) are majority-Hispanic. The remaining districts are all majority-white, some more than others; interestingly, the whitest seat, AZ-01, is a suburban seat located in northern Maricopa County. Although Arizona is not home to a large Black population, 11.9% of the voting-age population in the 3rd district is Black. Several of the state’s urban and suburban seats also have growing Asian populations – the 4th and 5th districts both have voting-age Asian populations of at least 7%.
AZ-02 is noteworthy for its large Native American, or American Indian, population. At 20.8%, its population is the second-largest in the country. Only Oklahoma’s 2nd district (25.4%) has a larger Native population. AZ-02 contains the largest chunk of the Navajo Nation. There are nearly two dozen other smaller reservations scattered throughout the state. Although many of these reservations are located in the 2nd district, reservations are also present in the 1st, 7th, and 9th districts.
|District||Bachelor’s or higher||Non-college white||Rank (of 435)|
Educational attainment in Arizona is broadly below-average; the median district, AZ-08, has a lower rate of college education (31.3%) than the nation as a whole (32.9%). The least-college educated districts are the majority-Hispanic AZ-03 and AZ-07, based in urban Phoenix and Tucson, respectively, as well as the rural AZ-09. These districts represent both the most Democratic and Republican ones in the state.
College education is broadly centered around the Phoenix area. By far the most college-educated district is AZ-01, based in the northern suburbs of Phoenix. The other districts surrounding the city itself also have higher rates of college education than the state as a whole. AZ-06, which takes in both rural areas and more affluent parts of Tucson, also ranks as above-average in educational attainment. Like with the least educationally-attained seats, college education doesn’t align neatly with partisanship. While AZ-01 and AZ-06 are swing seats, AZ-04 is firmly Democratic, and AZ-05 and AZ-08 are strongly Republican.
|District||Biden%||Trump%||2020 Margin||Shift (2016-20)|
Arizona’s congressional delegation has tended to be competitive in recent years, with both parties routinely switching control of the delegation. Because the state uses an independent commission, the competitiveness of the maps heavily depends on the commission, and both parties have complained when the maps don’t go the way they want.
Most recently, the maps in place from 2012 to 2020 showed a clear and consistent Democratic bent. Mathis’s maps yielded two elections (2012 and 2020) where Democrats won a majority of seats despite losing the popular vote. The more egregious of the two was 2012, when Republicans carried the popular vote by 8.5% (a margin of over 184,000 votes). Remarkably, Republicans were only a few hundred votes off from suffering the same fate in 2012, when they won the popular vote by 16.5% (over 259,000 votes). If Democrat Ron Barber had won 162 more votes, Democrats would have perhaps had the most unrepresentative majority in recent American history relative to the popular vote.
The new map is similar to the old map in some regards, but not all. The median seat is closer to the statewide vote, making it less likely a party will be winning a majority of seats while losing the popular vote decisively. The map is broadly dominated by vote sinks on both sides, with a handful of competitive districts in the middle (AZ-01 and AZ-06) and a handful of marginally competitive seats on either side (AZ-02 and AZ-04). Joe Biden won six of the state’s nine districts in 2020, but Trump carried six of nine in 2016. With AZ-01 based in suburban Phoenix and AZ-06 being centered around Tuscon, both of the state’s major metros have competitive seats. Democrats have to like their odds here in the long run, especially in the highly-educated 1st district, but Republicans retain a great shot at a majority in most elections.
2022 election results
|1||David Schweikert (R)||49.4%||50.6%||R+1.2%||D+3.2%|
|2||Tom O’Halleran (D)||46.1%||53.9%||R+7.8%||R+4.6%|
|3||Ruben Gallego (D)||77%||23%||D+53.4%||D+0.6%|
|4||Greg Stanton (D)||56.1%||43.9%||D+12.2%||R+11%|
|5||Andy Biggs (R)||37.4%||56.7%||R+19.3%||R+1.5%|
|6||Ann Kirkpatrick (D)||49.3%||50.7%||R+1.4%||R+11.6%|
|7||Raúl Grijalva (D)||64.5%||35.5%||D+29%||R+0.2%|
|8||Debbie Lesko (R)||N/A||96.5%||N/A||N/A|
|9||Paul Gosar (R)||N/A||97.8%||N/A||N/A|
Republicans picked up two districts (AZ-02 and AZ-06) in 2022. The two closest seats were AZ-01, decided by 1.2%, and AZ-06, decided by 1.4%; Republicans flipping these two seats was pivotal in their reclamation of the House majority. Two seats, AZ-08 and AZ-09, were left uncontested by Democrats. Accounting for those two, Republicans still won the overall House popular vote in Arizona, despite losing the Gubernatorial and Senate races.
Although Tom O’Halleran lost his bid for re-election in the redrawn AZ-02, his 7.8% defeat was a slight overperformance from Biden in the seat. Democrats, meanwhile, nearly carried AZ-06, a seat they mostly left for dead the entire campaign, as well as AZ-01. Republican efforts to compete in the urban AZ-04 failed spectacularly, as incumbent Greg Stanton outperformed Biden by a sizable margin.
Going forward, AZ-01 and AZ-06 are set to be pivotal swing seats in 2024. Both of these seats narrowly voted for Biden in 2020, but are represented by Republicans in Congress. Borderline competitive seats like AZ-02 and AZ-04, meanwhile, will likely fall by the wayside.
- AZ-01: David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills)
- AZ-02: Eli Crane (R-Oro Valley)
- AZ-03: Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix)
- AZ-04: Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix)
- AZ-05: Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert)
- AZ-06: Juan Ciscomani (R-Tuscon)
- AZ-07: Raúl Grijalva (D-Tuscon)
- AZ-08: Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria)
- AZ-09: Paul Gosar (R-Bullhead City)