Perhaps Arizona Isn’t In Play After All

Back in April, I made note of polls (here and here) that seemed to suggest that Arizona, which hasn’t gone for a Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1996 (and then only by the slimmest of margins and due in large part to Ross Perot’s presence on the ballot) might be a state that Barack Obama could win in November. Despite the growing population of Hispanics in the state, I was skeptical that Obama could win there. Based on the latest Public Policy Polling look at the state, it would appear that skepticism was well-founded:

Arizona’s looking a little bit less intriguing for Barack Obama than it did three months ago, when PPP polled it in the middle of the Republican primary contest. At the time it was tied but Mitt Romney’s now opened back up a 50-43 advantage in the state.

Arizona makes a rare state where Romney actually has a positive favorability rating, at 46/45. Meanwhile Obama is unpopular there with only 41% of voters approving of his job performance to 56% who disapprove. Romney’s ahead 48-38 with independents. Obama’s dominating the Hispanic vote as he is most places, leading 63-35, but Obama’s going to have to keep it closer with whites than his current 56-36 deficit if he’s going to have a chance at carrying the state

There is one potential spoiler for Romney, though, and it comes in the person of Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson:

One thing that could make the race more competitive in Arizona, perhaps more so than other states, is Gary Johnson’s presence on the ballot as the Libertarian candidate.  He pulls 9% in Arizona and he takes a lot more support away from Romney than he does Obama, narrowing Romney’s lead in the state to 45-41. History suggests it’s quite unlikely Johnson would really pull 9% in the end but it shows how many voters are unhappy with their main choices in this race.

Johnson’s performance in the poll is likely due to the fact that he served for eight years as Governor of neighboring New Mexico so there’s some name recognition going on there, and while it’s true that Johnson is unlikely to pull 9% on Election Day, it’s still interesting to see that much of the electorate willing to think about another candidate at the moment.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.