Arizona Democrats, who boosted Lake in her primary, had hoped that her refusal to moderate her positions, which included declaring an invasion on the southern border and enforcing new abortion bans following the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court in June, Hobbs court would help independent voters. In Arizona, voters are essentially divided into three, among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.
Hobbs and her allies focused on abortion rights in the campaign, putting Republican-sanctioned restrictions at the forefront of their message. But they also tried to contrast their inflation and immigration plans with Lake, a political newcomer.
NBC News exit polls confirmed Hobbs’ theory of the case, with 58% of Arizona voters feeling either dissatisfied or angry with the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe V. Wade and 80% of voters voting for Hobbs.
NBC News exit polls also showed Hobbs winning the majority of independent voters and 59% of self-described moderates, who made up a large portion of the electorate. More than 70% of voters 29 and under, who made up about 12% of the electorate, supported Hobbs, who also won a higher percentage of Republican voters than Lake won Democrats.
At a Trump rally in the state last month, Lake made it clear she was still completely aligned with the former president: “I’ve got some of these ignorant advisers saying, ‘You know, you really need to back off from near President Trump. now.’ And I say to them, ‘Put Hunter’s down [Biden] crack pipe now.’”
Days earlier, at a forum at Arizona State University, Representative Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., urged Arizonans not to vote for Lake over her refusal to accept the upcoming election results if she lost, saying that if she lived in Arizona , she would Hobbs back.
Cheney’s PAC spent more than $500,000 on an Arizona ad targeting Lake and fellow election denier Mark Finchem, who was running for secretary of state.
Lake released a statement at the time thanking Cheney, claiming that her ad did “the exact opposite” and led to more votes.
“Don’t mention it, @KariLakeCheney tweeted Monday night after Hobbs’ election was called.
During the primary, outgoing GOP Governor Doug Ducey, who angered Trump for certifying Biden’s 2020 victory, condemned Lake and supported her Republican opponent, Karrin Taylor Robson. But Ducey and Lake mended their relationship after her victory, and the Republican Governors Association, of which Ducey is president, has spent millions to boost Lake.
Lake seized on Hobbs’ refusal to debate and made it the focus of her campaign’s final weeks. She even disrupted the start of a forum where both candidates were due to appear separately last month, asking Hobbs to come out and debate her, before agreeing to leave the audience until it was her turn to speak.
Responding to concerns from allies about her own campaign, Hobbs told NBC News last month, “I’m here. I’m fighting.”
NBC News has already projected that Senator Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., and Democratic nominee for Secretary of State Adrian Fontes have defeated Republicans Blake Masters and State Representative Mark Finchem, respectively. The battle for the attorney general with Democrat Kris Mayes and Trump-backed Republican Abraham Hamadeh remains too close to call.
On the election-denial movement, for which Arizona was in many ways ground zero, Hobbs told NBC News in a pre-election day interview that she saw little evidence that such conspiracies would abate after the votes were counted.
“I think 2020 was the beginning of this long campaign,” said Hobbs, who vowed to accept the results regardless of who won. “And, depending on the outcome of a lot of these elections, I think it could get even worse because Kari Lake has already said she will only accept the result if she is the winner. And so I don’t think any of these people are going to quietly leave when they lose their races.”
Zoe Richards and Vaughan Hillyard contributed.