Democrats’ claims that Arizona will be “in play” in the presidential election seem to be ringing true. A new state poll puts GOP candidate Mitt Romney just 2 percentage points ahead of President Barack Obama.
The Merrill/Morrison Institute survey gave Romney 42 percent of registered voters with 40 percent saying they will vote for Obama. A further 18 percent were undecided.
“Because the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent, if the election were held today, the contest for Arizona’s 11 electoral votes would be a “toss up,” the institute said in announcing the results.
Poll director Bruce Merrill added, “While I think if the election were held today Romney probably would win, it appears Obama can mount a competitive campaign in Arizona.”
Merrill said the Senate campaign of former Surgeon General Richard Carmona could be a deciding factor. Carmona, a Democrat who is of Puerto Rican descent, is seeking to take the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl and his campaign could “stimulate turnout in the Hispanic community.”
The poll, of 488 registered voters, found that Arizona has a marked generation gap with older voters supporting Romney while younger ones say they will vote for the president.
Last week, Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, told The New York Times that Arizona is “a swing state,” adding, “The question is, whether we can get enough people registered to put it in play this year.
“Look next door. Look at New Mexico, look at Colorado, look at California,” said Messina. “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?”
Arizona, the home of Barry Goldwater and John McCain, has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate only once in the past 60 years when Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole in 1996. McCain beat Obama by nine percentage points in 2008.
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