Arizona has among the most robust early-voting programs in the country. In Maricopa, the state’s largest county, early voters in 2016 comprise already nearly 90 percent of the county’s total GOP turnout four years ago.
This raft of early voting represents a particular challenge for Cruz, whose team acknowledges he is likely climbing out of a hole, even though the campaign first put an Arizona team in place last September. John Kasich has all but written off the state, neither visiting nor investing resources, but the Cruz campaign is not getting a true head-to-head battle with Trump: Many votes were cast before the race consolidated, including for Cruz rivals who are no longer in the race.
In fact, veteran Arizona strategists and the Cruz campaign estimate as much as half the vote was cast even before Marco Rubio dropped out on March 15.
“Trump would have a natural lead because it’s a fragmented field,” said Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe of the early vote on the night of the March 15 elections.