Arizona voters have never turned out in mass more than they did 32 years ago, in 1980, drawn by the presidential choices of the incumbent Jimmy Carter and the California governor Ronald Reagan. In that election, won by Reagan, 80 percent of the state’s legal voters showed up at the polls.
I’m expecting the 2012 election to challenge that turnout in what to my mind is the most important election of my lifetime. There are many issues at stake of course but the big one is this. Do Americans want to turn back the clock, to reject all the individual freedoms won during the Sixties in the name of “progress,” or do we want to move ahead? I’m guessing America’s turmoil over the direction of a black President, Barrack Obama, and the promise of a wealthy, elitist challenger, Mitt Romney, will come close to bettering the Reagan-Carter turnout in this arid land.
Here is a list of Arizona’s turnouts by percentage since 1980, according to an election canvass done by the Secretary of State: 1) 1980, Reagan-Carter, 80 %, 2) 1976, Jimmy Carter v. President Gerald Ford, 78 %, 3) 2008, Obama v. John McCain, the Arizona senator, 77.7%, 4) 1992, Bill Clinton v. President George H. W. Bush, 77.2%, 5) 2004, President Bush v. John Kerry, 72.1%, 6) 1984, President Reagan v. Walter Mondale; 7) 2000, George W. Bush v. Al Gore, 8) George H. W. Bush v. Michael Dukakis, 67%; 9) President Bill Clinton v. Bob Dole, 63.8%.