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Record number of Arizona voters in primary election included big hike in Democrat turnout

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An Arizona voter carries her ballot to a polling place to vote in the state's Primary on August 28, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

A record-breaking number of Arizona voters cast ballots in this year's primary election.

According to state officials, 1.2 million voters mailed in a ballot or showed up at the polls during the Aug. 28 primary. That tops the previous record of nearly 1 million voters in the 2010 primary, The Associated Press reported.

The total for 2018 is about a 33 percent turnout.

Why did it increase?

The Associated Press credited heavy Democratic participation for the increase. About 524,000 Democrats turned out, compared to about 377,000 Democrats in the 2016 primary. About 671,000 Republicans voted this year, compared to about 606,000 in 2016.

Democrats are trying to flip federal seats in Arizona. Leading the way is a competitive U.S. Senate race between Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Rep. Martha McSally.

Democrats are seeking to outnumber Republicans by wooing a large number of independent voters. Arizona has about 1.26 million Republican voters and about 1.22 million independent voters. That compares to about  1.1 million Democratic voters, according to the Associated Press.

Still, the split between Republicans and Democrats is narrower than what it usually is, Garrett Archer, a senior elections analyst with the Arizona secretary of state, said.

Arizona Democratic Party chair Felecia Rotellini told the news outlet the party is confident but "not taking a single vote granted." Field offices across the state are continuing to register people to vote and sign voters up for permanent vote-by-mail status, she said.

In contrast, Republicans are continuing to boost efforts to keep their seats. That includes promoting Gov. Doug Ducey, who is seeking a second term in a race against Democratic challenger David Garcia.

Renae Eze, the Arizona communications director for the Republican National Committee, attributed the increased Democratic turnout to a spike in competitive primaries. But she believes Arizona Republicans voters out-vote Democrats.

"I think we're going to keep that lead, in good part to the great candidates we have," she told the Associated Press.

Anything else?

Chad Campbell, a political consultant in Arizona and former Democratic lawmaker, chalked up the increased Democratic participation to anti-Trump sentiment.

"It signals increased enthusiasm on the Democratic side, and I think that we're seeing that across the country," he told the news outlet.

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