Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll make this short and sweet. Arizona voted on a ballot measure to ban gay marriage in 2006. It failed (the first time that's happened in any state), so the state is voting on the subject again -- this time with more limited language that would only affect marriage and not other types of same-sex relationships.
In 2006, that measure received 48.2% of the vote. The county that came closest to mirroring that statewide result is Maricopa County, which gave it 48.4% of the vote. Nearly 4 million of Arizona's 6.2 million people live in Maricopa (where Phoenix is located). So, there's a very good chance that if the gay marriage ban passes in Maricopa County it passes statewide and if it fails in Maricopa County it fails statewide.
That said, if you want to know which way the election is bre aking before it's obvious from the statewide total, focusing on Maricopa might not work. Is Maricopa, with all its voters, really going to report before the rest of the state?
There aren't many other places where the county result was similar to the statewide result (Arizona only has 15 counties). The one exception is Apache County, where the 2006 measure received 49.8% of the vote. Interestingly, Apache is a heavily Native American locale which usually is the most Democratic county in Arizona elections. That's just further proof that you can't forecast a gay marriage vote based on typical partisan voting patterns.
It also makes sense to keep an eye on Pima County (the Tucson area), if for no reason other than that it's easily the second most populous county in Arizona. The 2006 measure received 42.2% of the vote in Pima. I'll be watching whether the "yes" vote is slightly higher -- say 44% -- in Pima County this year.
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