Dems grasp at opportunities in red states as Election Day looms

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Hoping to make major political inroads this November, Democrats have set their sights on traditionally Republican-leaning states. 

Both in the 2020 presidential contest and races for seats in the House and Senate, the liberal-leaning party sees opportunities as shifting demographics, new voters, and Republicans voting for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden strengthen its position. 

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Arizona, a battleground state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1952, is purple this year, with the introduction of young voters and progressive-leaning Latino voters in its largest counties. 

In a special election race, Democratic challenger Mark Kelly — a former NASA astronaut — has taken the lead against Republican incumbent Sen. Martha McSally. If elected, Kelly would serve alongside Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who beat McSally to win her seat in the 2018 midterm elections. 

On Friday, The Associated Press reported that Democrats have a shot of taking control of one or both chambers of the state's predominantly Republican Legislature — for the first time in nearly three decades. 

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly speaks during a drive-in campaign rally at Pima Community College West in Tucson, Ariz., Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. (Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star via AP)

While Democrats see states like Arizona as "in play," they also see conservative counties like Pinal and Tucson as major opportunities to pass progressive measures.

While Gov. Doug Ducey is a Republican, a Democratic legislature could seriously hinder the GOP agenda. The party will need a net gain of three Senate seats and two House seats for a majority.

In neighboring Texas – a Republican stronghold prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Democrats have also identified a path to victory. 

The Real Clear Politics average has President Trump oscillating between a one- and three-percentage point lead over Biden. Quinnipiac University's latest poll shows the pair in a dead heat, tied at 47% to 47% among likely voters. 

As The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, Trump underperformed Republican congressional candidates in Texas by five points four years ago. It's an understatement to say voters weren't showing up then like they are now.

In Texas, more than 9 million residents have voted, according to the  U.S. Elections Project. In 2016, the total turnout for the nation's second-most populous state was 8,969,226.

With just three days until Election Day, Trump and Biden are walking a tightrope to the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to win the office. 

Trump is on the defensive as Biden and Democrats gain ground in states like Georgia — another red state — and nail-biting Florida.

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Criss-crossing Midwestern Rust Belt states on Friday, the septuagenarians are each counting on their predictions to be proven right. 

Biden and former President Barack Obama are set to make their first joint appearance in Michigan on Saturday, while Trump will rally Pennsylvania voters at four separate events. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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