Arizona: Romney 42, Obama 40?

C’mon. Even I’m not this much of an eeyore.

The poll found that the electorate is divided along party lines: 80 percent of Republicans said they would vote for Romney, 78 percent of Democrats for Obama. Although the sample of political independents is small (n=166), independents appear to be breaking slightly more for Obama (38 percent) than Romney (28 percent). However, the independent vote is still up for grabs because 34 percent of independents said they are undecided…

Romney appears to have the Tea Party support. Among the 39 percent of the electorate who said they support what the Tea Party stands for, 75 percent said they would vote for Romney.

But the poll also found that younger voters disproportionately support Obama while older voters support Romney. No “gender gap” was found among Arizona voters, however, as 40 percent of both men and women said they would vote for Obama.

The 2008 Arizona exit poll was 39R/32D/30I; this poll is weighted 36R/30D/34I, which jibes with the growing number of independents nationally over the last four years. They had a native son as nominee four years ago too, which might have boosted the number of Republicans turning out. Unemployment in the state is still above the national average, though, and while Arizona will become a swing state eventually if Latinos retain their heavily Democratic tilt, O somehow would have to make up nine points from his 2008 loss with far less electoral wind at this back. Even if you assume a bigger Latino electorate this time plus no home-field advantage for the GOP nominee, what’s Obama’s argument to the rest of a state so red that it’s only voted once for a Democrat for president in the past 60 years?

Team O is thinking about it:

“If you just close your eyes and look at the census numbers, look at the number of unregistered voters, look at how this is the only state in the country that didn’t have a primary or a contested general in 2008, so there was no organizing,” Mr. Messina said as he ticked off the factors that work in their favor. “And look next door. Look at New Mexico, look at Colorado, look at California. All that stuff is going to come to Arizona. The question is, can we get it there in time? How expensive is it do it?”…

College students in Arizona are legally entitled to residency, and thus are able to vote, after living here for 30 days. The Latino population has nearly doubled over the past 10 years — it now makes up 30 percent of the overall population, and about 19 percent of the voting age population — though Democrats have long been frustrated over their lack of success at registering Latino voters and getting them to the polls. The announcement by Richard Carmona, a former United States surgeon general, who is Latino, that he would run as a Democrat for an open Senate seat here has stirred hopes that his presence could pump up Latino participation this fall…

Mr. Obama lost to John McCain in 2008 by nine points, a not particularly large number, considering that Mr. McCain is from Arizona. Mr. McCain drew 41 percent of the Latino vote, a number that even Republicans here say the party’s presidential candidate is unlikely to match.

Even Biden’s been mumbling about taking Arizona. Question, though: Under what circumstances, realistically, would they have enough cash and organization to spare that they would sink some time and effort into a longshot like AZ? O could afford to roll the dice on traditionally unfriendly states like North Carolina and Indiana in 2008 because he had a huge advantage in cash and enthusiasm. He won’t have that this time; every dollar he gambles on Phoenix is one he can’t spend holding Romney off in Denver. If I were a Dem strategist, Arizona would look like a lottery ticket to me — high reward but also so high risk that it wouldn’t be worth playing unless I had money to burn. Imagine they devoted resources to it and then ended up losing narrowly in Colorado and Nevada. How would they ever explain it to their base?

Exit question: Are we sure the percentage of Latino voters will be higher in Arizona this time? Read Sean Trende’s recent piece at RCP for thoughts on that. Quote: “That population grew smartly over the 2000s. But — much less remarked upon — the Latino electorate did not. Indeed, since 2004, it has been almost perfectly flat, and it contributed only marginally to the decline of the white vote from 2004 to 2008.”