Trump and Clinton's unexpected presidential election battle

  • Landscape view in the Phoenix, Ariz., area on Oct. 16, 2016.
  • J.J DeCola, an 82-year-old retired and disabled Navy veteran is pictured on Oct. 16, 2016. “The country has gone sour with politicians. Trump is exposing this. The other politicians are scared to death that he’s going to clean up the mess.”
  • An American flag is pictured in Payson, Ariz., on Oct. 16, 2016.
  • Jeri DeCola shares her thoughts on the presidential election in Arizona on Oct. 16, 2016. “Freedom of religion. We need to be able to practice our religion how we want and not have politicians making laws that interfere.”
  • On an issue that matters to him Darrell Stubbs says, “We don’t have enough law enforcement officers to keep us safe.” Pictured in Arizona on Oct. 16, 2016.
  • Political signs litter the landscape in Payson, Ariz., on Oct. 16, 2016.
  • Pictured at a gas station in Arizona on Oct. 17, 2016, Mason Miyamoto says, “For starters I’m not going to vote for Trump. He has no plan. I have relatives who emigrated from Mexico and what he is proposing is just wrong.”
  • A mural for the historic Route 66 that stretches through the country in Holbrook, Ariz., on Oct. 17, 2016. Route 66 runs through the country between Chicago, Ill., and Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Bill Velie pictured in Arizona on Oct. 17, 2016. “Protecting the Constitution. Protecting the Supreme Court. Take care of our people before the rest of the world.”
  • Larry ‘Mouse’ Davidson is pictured on the historic Route 66 in Seligman, Ariz. on Oct. 17, 2016. “I don’t care about the election. I live in middle of nowhere for a reason. I have no TV. I believe in working hard, drinking beer and having fun. I am as blue collar as they come.”
  • The Wigwam Motel is pictured in Holbrook, Ariz., on Oct 16, 2016.
  • Polly Velie is pictured in Arizona on Oct. 17, 2016. When asked about issues important to her in the election Velie said, “National security and economic security and striking a balance with all cultures and educations.”
  • Visitors are pictured, including through a reflection, as they walk around Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona on Oct. 17, 2016.
  • Damon Clarke, chairman of the Hualapai Nation, is pictured at the Hualapai Tribal Headquarters in Peach Springs, Ariz. on Oct. 17, 2016. “We wonder how the new administration is going to be with Native American issues. We had a good 8 years with the Obama Administration. We hear what Trump is saying and wonder what immigrants he is talking about as in our eyes he is an immigrant along with all who came after Columbus.”
  • Dave McLeod is pictured on Route 66 in Seligman, Ariz., on Oct 17, 2016. “The economy, jobs and the border.”
  • When asked about the election on Oct. 18, 2016, Don McElroy at the VFW in Dolan Springs, Ariz. said, “Our country can’t afford having either one elected. And Hillary was already president for four years so we have seen how that worked. “
  • Margarette Kilton in Dolan Springs, Ariz. on Oct. 18, 2016 said, “I’d like to see our country getting back to being great. And I’m not talking about either candidate so I’m worried for my country.”
  • Dolan Springs, Ariz. on Oct. 18. 2016.
  • Asked about the election on Oct. 18, 2016, Chris Wagner, owner of The Gun Shop in Kingman, Ariz. said, “Gun control is a big issue, of course, but I think it gets too much attention in elections. In my opinion politicians use it to get votes. The big thing in this election wouldn’t be the election of president but what that president does when there is a Supreme Court vacancy.”
  • The Colorado River on Oct. 18, 2016.
  • When asked about the election on Oct. 18, 2016, Adam Bervell in Kingman, Arizona said, “People are voting for two people who they dislike, picking the least objectionable. And their vote will accomplish nothing.”
  • Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev. on Oct. 18, 2016.
  • A Blacks For Trump group outside the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev. on Oct. 18, 2016.
  • Asked about the election on Oct. 18, 2016, Gary Baus on Las Vegas strip said, “Helping the homeless with housing and jobs.”
  • Trump golf balls in the Trump International Hotel gift shop in Las Vegas, Nev. on Oct. 18, 2016.
  • Trump supporters wait for him to arrive at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, Nev. on Oct. 18, 2016.



We are in the home stretch of the 2016 presidential race, with just three weeks until Election Day. As expected, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s campaigns have been zeroing in on crucial swing states — one of them being Nevada. But this election has also brought an unexpected battle: the one over Arizona.

Nevada is a key battleground state. Clinton won the Democratic caucus with 52.6 percent.  Trump won the Republican caucus  with 45.9 percent. The state has six electoral votes.

In the last ten elections, it has voted Democrat four times and Republican six times. The numbers are typically very close - in 2012 the breakdown 52.4 percent voting Democrat and 45.7 percent voting Republican. Historically, Nevada has been one of the most accurate states in voting for the winning president. Between 1900 and 2012, the state has voted for the winner 89.66 percent of the time. 

Nevada’s population demographics have changed significantly over the last five years. The state has experienced one of the biggest drops in eligible non Hispanic white voters as well as one of the biggest growths of eligible Latino voters in the nation. The Latino vote is expected to be around 20 percent this year. This could potentially make a critical difference for this presidential election.

Nevertheless, demographics do not guarantee an election and the candidates will be battling it out till the end.

On the flip side, there is usually no major battle for Arizona. It is assumed to vote red, since it has only voted a Democrat for president once since 1952. However, this election could bring a historic change.

A poll by NBC News/WSJ/Marist found that Trump was only leading Clinton by 1 point, while a poll by Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News concluded that Clinton was actually leading by 1.6 percent. These numbers have many asking, could Arizona be a swing state this year?

Clinton’s campaign seems to think so. It has increased its spending in Arizona in an effort to flip the state and nab its eleven electoral votes. There are still about 166,000 more Republicans registered than Democrats in Arizona. However, there is also a large number of registered Independents — close to 1.16 million. Polls show that Clinton has a 9 percent point lead among Independent and other voters

Photographer Mark Peterson travelled through both of these states to ask voters what is most important to them in this election.

These photographs were shot on assignment by Mark Peterson for MSNBC Photography as part of his on-going body of work, Political Theatre” which looks at the landscape of the American political system, published by Steidl 2016.

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