The Associated Press called the race in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District for Republican Debbie Lesko early into the vote count on Tuesday night, declaring that she had beaten Democrat challenger Dr. Hiral Tipirneni.
From the Washington Post:
Cheers erupted at a private home in the western Phoenix suburbs at Lesko’s election watch party, where Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.) and around 60 to 70 supporters gathered. Lesko spokesman Barrett Marson had initially predicted a double-digit, 13-point win.
Initial indications were for a six point margin, less than half of what the Lesko campaign had originally projected but a strong showing nonetheless.
For their parts, though, both candidates were understandably cautious to embrace the early indicators. Lesko did not declare victory, and Tipineni was waiting for more ballots to be counted before conceding:
First returns are in! We've got a single digit race – we're down 5.8% – and there are tens of thousands of ballots left to count. #AZ08
— Hiral Tipirneni (@hiral4congress) April 25, 2018
In an area which had gone strongly for Donald Trump (21 points) the Republicans had a reason to be hopeful for a decisive win. Due to recent redistricting, the current boundaries of the 8th are best measured by the 2nd district post-2000, and the Republicans have a significant edge in both voter registration and historical turnout.
Final tallies had not been reported at the time this story was filed. It will be updated with the final tallies after they are confirmed.
With 100% of precincts reporting their initial tallies, Lesko has won by 9,702 votes.:
Most outlets are viewing this as a troubling sign for the GOP due to the significant drop-off in Republican votes from the previous election cycle.