The 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election was one of the most closely watched and competitive governor races in the country. Republican Kari Lake faced off against Democrat Katie Hobbs for the open governor seat in this swing state. With high stakes and national attention, this race exemplified the divided political climate across America.
This comprehensive guide breaks down the 2022 Arizona governor election from the primary campaigns to the final results. Discover key information on the candidates, critical issues, voter demographics, campaign strategies, outside spending, predictions, and more using this detailed election analysis.
Introduction to the Arizona 2022 Governor Race
The Arizona governorship was open in 2022 since incumbent Doug Ducey faced term limits after serving two four-year terms. Ducey’s time in office saw political shifts in the historically red state. Arizona leaned Democratic in the 2020 presidential and senatorial races, bringing tighter competition between the parties.
The 2022 governor election outcome would impact key policies for the next four years. Either solidifying Republican control or flipping the state’s executive branch to Democrat leadership. Issues like abortion rights, border security, and election integrity shaped the campaigns.
As a presidential battleground, all eyes focused on Arizona’s governor race. The results would reflect the pulse of voters before the 2024 election. Ultimately, this close race between Katie Hobbs and Kari Lake defied expectations and made history.
Katie Hobbs – Democrat
Katie Hobbs entered the race as Arizona’s Secretary of State. She rose to prominence defending the state’s 2020 election results and speaking out against voter fraud claims. Her platform focused on investing in education, protecting abortion rights, and sensible gun reform.
Kari Lake – Republican
Kari Lake brought formidable name recognition as a former news anchor to her gubernatorial bid. Backed by former President Trump, Lake centered her campaign on border security, election integrity, and economic concerns. She adopted a combative approach against the media and Democrats like Hobbs.
The Primary Campaigns
Before Hobbs and Lake faced off in the general election, both candidates had to win their party’s nomination in the August 2nd primary. The primaries set the tone for their eventual matchup.
Katie Hobbs took a low-profile approach by avoiding debates and large events during the primary. As the Democratic frontrunner, she focused attacks on potential GOP opponents. Hobbs comfortably won the nomination with over 75% of the vote against only minor challengers.
The GOP primary emerged as a heated contest between Kari Lake and developer Karrin Taylor Robson. Lake consolidated support from Trump and the Arizona GOP’s right wing to secure the nomination with 47% to Robson’s 44% second place finish. This tight victory demonstrated Lake’s polarizing nature within her own party.
The General Election Campaign
With Hobbs and Lake officially nominated, the contentious general election campaign lasted over three months until Election Day on November 8th. As competitive races usually go, this one was no exception with both sides attacking their opponent’s record and positions.
Katie Hobbs’ Campaign
- Focused messaging on “sanity over chaos” to contrast with Lake
- Emphasized experience as Secretary of State
- Support from prominent Arizona Democrats like Mark Kelly
- Avoided debating Lake directly
- Prioritized abortion rights, education, healthcare, and economic policies
Kari Lake’s Campaign
- Hammered Hobbs as weak on border security and voter fraud
- Promised to declare an invasion at the southern border on day one
- Echoed Trump’s stolen election claims from 2020
- Lean into combative style and dominated media coverage
- Spotlighted economic concerns over inflation and gas prices
The Key Issues
Abortion rights, border security, and election integrity took center stage during this campaign. But a wider range of pressing issues also impacted voters.
Overturning Roe v. Wade made abortion a defining issue nationwide in 2022. Lake pledged to enact a near total abortion ban while Hobbs promised to uphold and protect access. This contrast motivated moderate independents and suburban women.
Immigration and border policies reflected a clear ideological divide. Lake adopted Trump’s hardline stances and declared the situation at the southern border an “invasion.” Hobbs countered with calls for a more balanced approach with targeted law enforcement.
Just two years removed from the contentious 2020 election, voting rights debates carried into this race. Lake continued to claim the 2020 presidential election was rigged while Hobbs stood by her defense of the results as Secretary of State.
Other Key Issues
- Education – Hobbs prioritized increased funding for K-12 schools and universities while Lake favored school choice policies and banning “critical race theory.”
- Gun regulations – Hobbs pushed for universal background checks and red flag laws while Lake firmly opposed any new gun restrictions.
- Economy/Inflation – Pocketbook issues like gas prices and the cost of living hurt Democrats nationwide, but didn’t give Republicans as large of an advantage in Arizona.
- Water rights – Access to water impacts farmers, homeowners, and the vital tourism industry in the desert climate. The candidates argued over the best policies for water conservation and infrastructure.
Voter Demographics and Trends
Understanding Arizona’s evolving electorate provides critical insights into the dynamics behind this 2022 governor’s race.
Arizona has traditionally leaned Republican. But demographic shifts led to more balanced voter registration:
- Republican: 35%
- Democrat: 31%
- Independent/No party: 34%
The state’s large share of independents makes Arizona a valuable swing state that could swing either direction.
Younger voters favored Democrats while older voters trended toward Republicans:
- 18-29 years old: +30% Democrat
- 30-49 years old: +10% Democrat
- 50-64 years old: +5% Republican
- 65+ years old: +20% Republican
Women voted more Democratic while men favored Republicans by a slim margin:
- Women: +6% Democrat
- Men: +2% Republican
Arizona’s Hispanic and Latino population strongly leaned Democrat but were not monolithic. Republicans saw inroads among certain Latino demographics.
- Hispanic/Latino: +25% Democrat
- White: +5% Republican
- Black: +60% Democrat
- Asian: +10% Democrat
- Native American: +20% Democrat
Urban vs. Suburban vs. Rural
Population density patterns in Arizona match trends nationwide:
- Urban areas: Heavily Democratic
- Suburban districts: Competitive swing regions
- Rural counties: Strongly Republican
Campaign Finance and Outside Spending
Money poured into this open gubernatorial race from the candidates themselves along with outside groups. These massive investments reflect Arizona’s premier status as a swing state.
Total Raised by Candidates:
- Katie Hobbs: $11 million
- Kari Lake: $12 million
- Pro-Hobbs: $40+ million
- Pro-Lake: $36+ million
This combined spending exceeded $100 million on the governor’s race alone. Outside groups like the Republican Governors Association and Democratic Governors Association contributed millions in negative ads against the opposing candidate.
Latest Arizona 2022 Election Polls and Predictions
As a toss-up race, Hobbs and Lake each saw paths to victory in the final weeks. Polling averages and prognosticators forecasted an extremely close contest.
The RealClearPolitics polling average in the month before Election Day showed:
- Katie Hobbs: 47.8%
- Kari Lake: 46.5%
Hobbs held a slim 1.3% advantage in the polling averages. But with a typical margin of error around +/- 3%, the race was effectively tied.
Forecasters viewed Arizona’s governor election as a pure toss-up or tilting slightly for Democrats:
- FiveThirtyEight: 51% chance for Hobbs win
- Inside Elections: Toss-up
- Cook Political Report: Toss-up
With plenty of uncertainty, the candidates concentrated their final efforts on turning out supportive base voters while pursuing critical independents.
Election Night 2022 Results
sts in the governor’s race seesawed as votes rolled in on election night. Lake took an early lead before Hobbs pulled ahead once mail ballots were counted.
Initial Returns Favored Lake
The first returns showed:
- Kari Lake: 56%
- Katie Hobbs: 44%
Lake’s strong numbers among in-person Election Day voters gave her an early advantage.
Mail Ballots Flip to Hobbs
As early and mail ballots were increasingly reported, the race flipped:
- Katie Hobbs: 54%
- Kari Lake: 46%
Hobbs benefitted from mail and early votes which skewed Democratic in Arizona.
Narrow Margin at End of Election Night
When all the Election Night votes were finally tallied, Hobbs led by less than 1 percentage point:
- Katie Hobbs: 51%
- Kari Lake: 49%
With hundreds of thousands of votes left to count, the race was far from over.
Post-Election Results and Call for Hobbs
With such a close margin, the winner remained unclear for over a week until Katie Hobbs definitively pulled ahead.
Hobbs Lead Expands Then Narrows
As more votes came in, Hobbs expanded her lead to over 35,000 votes. But as the last ballots were tabulated, Lake partially closed the gap.
Slow Counting Process
Arizona’s counting process lasted longer than other states. Lake and Trump baselessly claimed this delay was suspicious. In reality, Arizona has historically taken extra time due to mail voting and rigorous verification procedures.
Race Call and Concession
On November 14th, Katie Hobbs’ lead grew large enough for decision desks to call the race in her favor. Kari Lake did not formally concede defeat and indicated she may legally contest the results.
Final Certified Results:
- Katie Hobbs: 50.4%
- Kari Lake: 49.6%
Hobbs ultimately prevailed by just 17,000 votes out of 2.5 million cast. Her 1% margin of victory made this the closest governor’s race in the country for 2022.
Katie Hobbs Makes History as Arizona’s Next Governor
Katie Hobbs broke open a glass ceiling by becoming the first Democrat to win the Arizona governorship since 2006. She also became Arizona’s first Democratic woman governor ever.
Defeating a Trump Ally
This marquee victory held significance after Hobbs defeated vocal Trump ally Kari Lake. The result dealt a high-profile blow to the MAGA movement.
Coattails in Arizona
Hobbs’ coattails provided down-ballot boosts for other Democrats like Senator Mark Kelly who also won close races in Arizona.
Role Model for Women
As only the fifth female governor elected in U.S. history, Katie Hobbs emerges as an important role model and voice for women in politics.
Implications for 2024 Presidential Election
Flipping the governor’s office bodes well for Democrats’ hopes of winning Arizona’s electoral votes in the 2024 presidential race.
What Drove Hobbs’ Razor Thin Victory?
Katie Hobbs ultimately prevailed thanks to key factors that barely tipped the scales in her favor in this hyper-polarized environment.
Swing Voters and Crossover Support
Hobbs won the critical support of independent voters plus a meaningful number of moderate Republicans who crossed over to support her.
Abortion Rights Issue
The overturn of Roe v. Wade allowed Hobbs to galvanize suburban women in particular around protecting abortion access in Arizona.
Response to Lake’s Extremism
Kari Lake’s combative rhetoric and stances on issues like election fraud likely alienated some independents. Her extremism hampered gaining broader support.
Ground Game Edge
Democrats had a well-funded turnout operation to bank early votes by mail and drive supporters to the polls on Election Day.
Arizona’s population changes continue trending the state toward Democrats as seen by recent election results.
Republican Response and Kari Lake’s Next Steps
Kari Lake and her supporters fiercely rejected the election outcome and spread baseless fraud claims following her loss.
Refusal to Concede
Lake has not yet officially conceded despite falling short. She continues questioning the election’s integrity and validity.
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Some Republicans pressured Lake to formally challenge the vote counting and results in court. But she has not yet taken any legal action.
Theories of Suppression and Tampering
Without credible evidence, Lake and Republicans accuse Democrats of rigging the election by tampering with voting machines and suppressing GOP votes.
Impact on 2024 Primary?
By establishing herself as an unapologetic conservative fighter, Lake could pursue a role as a Trump ally and powerbroker during the 2024 primary.
Final Takeaways from the 2022 Arizona Governor Election
Katie Hobbs and Kari Lake waged an intense battle for Arizona’s governorship that encapsulated the partisan divisions across America. This consequential race resulted in groundbreaking history with Hobbs emerging victorious by the slimmest of margins.
The 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election stands out as:
- A pivotal Southwest battleground race with national implications
- A showcase for hot button issues like abortion, immigration, and election integrity
- A reflection of Arizona’s continuing political evolution
- A victory for Democrats despite a tough national environment
- A historic milestone electing Arizona’s first Democratic woman governor
While Hobbs and Arizona Democrats celebrate this hard-fought win, theextremely close result demonstrates the state’s lingering, precarious partisan split. The 2024 presidential race will soon put Arizona’s all-important swing state status to the test once again.
Frequently Asked Questions About the 2022 Arizona Governor Election
Who won the 2022 Arizona governor race?
Democrat Katie Hobbs defeated Republican Kari Lake by just 17,000 votes out of 2.5 million cast to flip the open governor seat blue.
What made the Arizona governor election so close?
Arizona’s changing swing state demographics and sharp ideological divides between the parties resulted in an extremely competitive race separated by only 1% in the end.
How did Katie Hobbs manage to win as a Democrat in a red state?
Hobbs assembled a winning coalition by claiming the majority of independent voters, benefiting from suburban backlash against Kari Lake’s stances, and driving high Democratic turnout.
What campaign strategies did Kari Lake use?
Lake leaned into combative rhetoric echoing Trump, attacked Hobbs as weak on border security, and fueled doubts about 2020 election integrity. This galvanized the GOP base but alienated some moderates.
How much money did Democrats and Republicans spend on the governor’s race?
Campaign fundraising and outside spending from PACs amounted to over $100 million total between the candidates and allied groups on both sides.
What role did abortion rights play in the governor’s election?
Overturning Roe v. Wade allowed Hobbs to crystallize support among Democrats and suburban women in particular around protecting reproductive rights.
How does Katie Hobbs’ victory impact the 2024 presidential election?
Hobbs flipping the Arizona governorship bodes well for Democrats’ efforts to win the state in the next presidential race after Biden carried it in 2020.
This detailed guide covered every important angle surrounding Arizona’s hotly contested 2022 governor election between Katie Hobbs and Kari Lake. Now you have comprehensive insights into the candidates, campaigns, issues, results, implications, and historical significance of this critical battleground race with national consequences. Whether your interest stems from Arizona politics specifically or competitive elections in swing states more broadly, this breakdown provides all the essential facts and context to fully understand the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election.