New poll shows Hillary leading in a state she, er, shouldn't be leading in

I’m trying to find some hopeful spin for you on a poll that has her up four points in … Arizona. A state that hasn’t gone blue in 20 years.

Here’s some, I guess: If Trump wets the bed there, McCain’s as good as gone from the Senate too. Maybe that’s Trump’s destiny — to be the man who finally retired John McCain.

Not a bad legacy, to be honest.

In a survey of 1,060 likely Democrat, Republican, Independent and Non-Declared voters across Arizona based on projected 2016 general election turnout, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is up 4.3 percent over Republican candidate Donald Trump…

“Different regions yielded different results for the candidates. Trump did better than Clinton by six points in rural Arizona while Clinton experienced a 17-point lead in Pima county. However, when it came to Maricopa county, both candidates were virtually tied,” Mike Noble, managing partner of OH Predictive Insights and chief pollster, said. “Clinton held a healthy 12-point advantage over Trump when it came to female respondents. However, it’s very surprising to think that Hillary Clinton may carry Arizona, a state that holds the narratives of SB1070, two nationally known anti-illegal immigration sheriffs, liberal gun laws and consistently conservative constituents.”

Hillary takes 46.5 percent of the vote versus 42.2 for Trump and 5.8 for “third party.” When you drill down, you find that 8.5 percent of men prefer “third party” to Trump versus just 3.3 percent of women who prefer it to Hillary. Likewise, Trump’s support among his party and independents is softer than Hillary’s is among hers. He leads GOPers 78/13, with five percent preferring a third party. Hillary leads Democrats 82/11 (with just three percent voting third-party) and independents 45/38, with nine percent choosing the unnamed third-party candidate. Trump may be taking damage from both sides in Arizona: It’s Goldwater country, after all, so there may be a larger-than-expected contingent of #NeverTrump conservatives opting out whereas the large Hispanic minority may be helping Democrats consolidate behind Hillary. You’re not going to bet against him there over one poll, especially a poll conducted by new polling outfit (whose predecessor drew a C+ rating in FiveThirtyEight’s scorecard), but this isn’t the only evidence lately of a surprisingly tight race in AZ.

That lead was within the margin of error. WaPo reported just four days ago that Democrats are looking hard at making a play for the state despite the fact that Romney won it easily four years ago. The secret ingredient is the estimated 350,000 Latinos there who aren’t registered to vote — yet. Under normal circumstances, erasing the GOP’s advantage in the state by getting a majority of those people to sign up and turn out would be an exceedingly heavy lift. But Latinos may be more motivated than in previous years to vote because of Trump’s mass deportation plan. (There’s anecdotal evidence that that’s true in other states.) And Hillary will have more of an organizational advantage over Trump than Democratic candidates are used to, so a strong and largely unopposed turnout push by the left really could move the margins. Here’s a not so encouraging vignette from WaPo:

Clinton’s footprint appears to be greater than Trump’s. His state director, Charles Munoz, is based in Nevada, and a visit last week to Trump headquarters in Mesa revealed little evidence of an active campaign. There was one worker eating lunch at his desk, a roomful of empty cubicles and, other than a small pile of plastic yard signs, no Trump paraphernalia, brochures or fliers. The GOP’s coordinated campaign has only one staffer, though party officials boast of an active volunteer corps and plans to soon open 14 offices.

Operatives from both parties confirmed for WaPo that private polling currently shows the race as a toss-up. In Arizona.

Speaking of red states that the Republican nominee should have no trouble winning, Trump’s social media director has now taken to proudly tweeting out surveys that have Trump winning … Utah. With 36 percent.

If you combine the totals for the non-major party options in that same survey — Gary Johnson, Green Party nominee Jill Stein, “don’t know,” and “other” — you get 38 percent. Trump’s actually trailing none-of-the-above in one of the reddest states in the union. And his social media guy is boasting about the poll regardless.

Even so, I stand by what I said yesterday: In context, given how badly the past month has gone for his campaign politically and financially, he’s remarkably close to Clinton in most polls. A new one from YouGov today has the race 43/39 for Hillary, a pitiful number for the GOP nominee at this stage but an almost equally pitiful one for the Democrat. Against a well-liked, admired Democrat, Trump would already effectively be an also-ran. Against Hillary Clinton, he’s never quite out of the running even when he’s back on his heels. Here’s lefty Steve Kornacki making the same point. If they can’t put Trump away even when he’s raising no money and getting tons of bad press for his judge comments, what will they do if/when he starts running something approaching a competent operation?