Republicans In Trouble In Arizona?

Most political pundits have scoffed at suggestions from the Obama campaign that Arizona would be competitive this time around. The campaign’s calculations seem to be based on the growing Hispanic population in the state and Republican troubles among that particular demographic. Well, the election is still some six months away but there’s a new poll out of Arizona that suggests that the people in Obama HQ in Chicago may be on to something:

(CNN) – The battle between President Barack Obama and all-but-certain GOP nominee Mitt Romney for Arizona’s eleven electoral votes stands neck and neck, according to a poll released Monday.

Arizona, which has voted for only one Democratic presidential candidate in sixty years, has become a hot battleground in 2012, partly because of the state’s increasing Latino population.

The poll from Arizona State University’s Merrill/Morrison Institute indicated 42% of registered voters in Arizona backing Romney and 40% supporting Obama. The margin was well within the poll’s sampling error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

A large portion of respondents – 18% – said they were undecided in who they would support in the November’s general election. Among independents, the undecided figure was far higher. Thirty-four percent of voters who said they were independents said they hadn’t yet picked a candidate to support.

“As the poll shows, the independents will decide this election in Arizona,” Dr. David Daugherty, director of research at Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said in a statement accompanying the poll’s release. “But, it’s important to remember the state’s history: Arizona has supported only one Democratic presidential candidate since Harry S Truman was elected in 1948. Winning Arizona will be an uphill battle for President Obama.”

The large number of independents who are undecided here makes it impossible to say the state is leaning one way or another, and until we see similar results from other polling companies it’s hard to make any judgments about the reliability of this particular poll. However, if it does turn out that Arizona ends up being a battleground state that the GOP will end up needing to expend resources that it might have used elsewhere in, then that is going to make Mitt Romney’s task over the next sign months all the more difficult.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
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.


  1. Hey Norm says:

    18% undecided???
    The demographics make it a microcosm of the National race…old well of white people versus everyone else.

  2. @Hey Norm:

    18% undecided???

    Some of us are waiting to see who wins the LP nomination before we waste time agonizing over whether Obama or Romney is slightly less excruciating to vote for.

  3. Al says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Surely you don’t think there are enough people planning to vote LP to move the needle, do you? (Note that I’m one of the people watching to see who the LP nominates.)

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I have to presume the kids and professors responsible for that poll were stoned.

  5. EddieInCA says:

    Demographics alone will soon make New Mexico solid blue, and will make Texas, Nevada, Arizona and even Colorado much more purple than Red.

    Eventually, the old, pissed off white people will be replaced by younger, darker people who don’t really care about God, Gays and Guns.

  6. Hey Norm says:

    “…I have to presume the kids and professors responsible for that poll were stoned…”

    Of course you do…otherwise it wouldn’t fit your ideology.

  7. sam says:

    Doug, speaking of Arizona and the GOP’s problems, I’m surprised that you’ve not written on this: Thomas, Aubuchon to be stripped of legal licenses. As somebody pointed out, when’s the last time you saw an elected prosecutor disbarred for illicit prosecutions? Sheriff Joe’s future is looking pretty cloudy, I’d say, as the disbarments can only strengthen any conspiracy case the feds might be developing. None of this can be good for the GOP in Arizona.

  8. @Al:

    Surely you don’t think there are enough people planning to vote LP to move the needle, do you?

    No, but I also surely don’t think my planning to vote Democrat or Republican is going to move the needle either.

  9. Peacewood says:

    Even given the changing demographics and all that, I’ll be utterly shocked if Obama carries AZ in November. This is still very much the land of Brewer and Arpaio.

  10. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    As an Arizonan, It’s obvious the demographics are changing here but I’d be surprised if Obama won the state. I couldn’t find the poll’s crosstabs, but there’s a nod to a Grand Canyon-esque split between the retirees and everyone younger than them. By 2020-24, perhaps, Arizona will be solidly purple. 2012 is a little too early.

    Something not mentioned here is how Arizona’s sizable Mormon population is leaning. That group, too, I’m fairly sure also is split on generational lines.

  11. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Peacewood: Arpaio will die with his boots on, because he’ll never get voted out, never step down and never run for higher office. He turns 80 in June. Won five 4-year terms, too.

  12. KariQ says:

    The Mormon population alone would make me expect Arizona to be a non-contest in this election. As others have said, in another 10 years or so, things may be different but right now Arizona even being close would be quite a surprise.

  13. @EddieInCA: Nevada and Colorado are already swing/lean Dem States at the presidential level. Colorado has a 2004/2008 PVI of 0, and Nevada has a 2004/2008 PVI of D+1. Given demographics, probably more the 2008/2012 PVI another point or two more blue.

  14. @Al: Plenty of people don’t plan their vote but end up voting anyway.

  15. Freddie Sims says:

    There will be a lot of surprises in this election. The Mormons will support Mr Romney, but I don’t think the evangelicals will. For some reason they are convinced that Romney isn’t a real Christian. So be careful….. all those red states who voted for John McCain ….I promise you this will not happen for Mr Romney. I predict a Landslide for the President!