Midwestern snowbirds and others who flooded into Arizona mainly settled in Maricopa, making it politically dominant and distinct.
The differences start with the aesthetic. Middle-class houses in Phoenix tend to have lawns, whereas Tucson’s mostly have desert landscaping, with artful cacti and such. Thomas Volgy, a politics professor at the University of Arizona and former mayor of Tucson, says that Maricopans want “to recreate Michigan”, whereas people in Pima accept that they live in a desert and use water responsibly.
Tucson is at heart a college town, the home of the state’s flagship university. To the extent that intellectuals (such as Mr Volgy) moved to Arizona, they favoured Tucson. Pima County also has an old and rooted Hispanic community. By contrast, Maricopa is a largely white society with more recent Mexican immigrants. And whereas Maricopa is inland, Pima is on the border, which has always made its debate about immigration “more nuanced” than Maricopa’s, according to Mr Volgy.