No one really thought Barack Obama had a chance in Arizona, did they? Not only does the state have a distinctly conservative electorate, it also has a rather strong Mormon presence on which Mitt Romney will draw for support. Democratic pollster PPP throws a large dash of cold water on Democrat dreams of a surprise in the desert:
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.
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.
That approval rating is 41/56, which means that even if Romney didn’t get a lot of support in the state, Obama is even less likely to win it. Don’t forget that Romney won the state in the early part of the nomination process rather easily, so the idea that Arizona Republicans will be less likely to turn out with Romney is a strange notion indeed. With that kind of approval rating, Obama has more of a problem there with his party than Romney will with the GOP.
The only real surprise — and it’s not much of one — is the impact that an Arizona running mate has on Romney’s standing. Let’s just say that he’ll be looking eastward to fill out the ticket. John McCain’s favorability in the state is a disastrous 36/54, and while Governor Jan Brewer is above water at 47/45, having her as a running mate gives the overall ticket a four-point lead, one point less than Romney has over Obama one-on-one.
One caveat, though, is the sample, which has a D/R/I of 31/46/23. In 2010, the D/R/I was 28/36/36. That’s big enough to take a closer look, but since the biggest undersample was with independents that give Romney a 10-point edge, it’s probably not working in Obama’s favor.
Update: The last sentence should have read, “not working in Obama’s favor” rather than “Romney’s”. I’ve fixed it.