This does not mean, of course, that Obama will have an easy time carrying Arizona. On the contrary, it will likely be quite difficult. But it can be done, especially if the Obama campaign can change three key elements of 2008’s electoral equation. First, the share of Hispanic voters must grow and their support level for Obama must increase. In 2008, 16 percent of voters were Hispanic; based on eligible voter trends that number should rise to 19 percent given solid work to register and mobilize this population. And in 2008, Hispanics supported Obama by just 56-41 in the state—given everything that’s happened in the state in the last four years and the absence of McCain, a politician famous for his moderate record on immigration—on the ticket, it should be possible to move that number up to national support levels (67-31 in 2008 and possibly higher this year).
Second, a projected 3 point decrease in the size of the total white vote should come entirely from white working class voters. Based on recent data, this is a highly plausible assumption. Eligible voter trends since 2008 are consistent with such an outcome and, in 2008, the decrease in the white vote (4 points) did in fact come entirely from working class voters, according to the exit polls.
Finally, Obama’s performance among white college graduates needs to improve over 2008 levels, when he lost this group by 17 points. This was unusually weak compared to Kerry’s performance in 2004, when he lost this group by only 4 points, and to Gore’s in 2000, when he lost the group by 7 points.