The New York Times is the latest outlet to question whether Arizona is a swing state in the 2008 presidential contest. We have a hard time swallowing that one, but the McCain campaign did include the Grand Canyon State in his own list of swing states some time back.
The most recent Rasmussen Reports poll of Arizona voters, taken in June, showed McCain leading Obama by 9 percentage points–a dip from a stronger earlier lead of 20 percentage points.
From the Times:
In the sea of uncertainty that defines American politics, presidential candidates have generally been able to count on the residents of their home state, Al Gore’s loss of Tennessee in 2000 being a notable exception.
But a variety of factors have made Mr. McCain’s chances in Arizona less assured than they ordinarily would seem, which his campaign has acknowledged.
The number of independent voters in Arizona has risen 12 percent since 2004, and those voters have helped send a Democrat to the governor’s mansion and given the party four of the state’s eight Congressional seats — including two in 2006, one in a historically Republican district.
At the same time, Arizona Democrats, like many of their counterparts around the country, have outpaced Republicans in voter registration, adding almost 20,000 voters to the rolls since March, compared with the Republican majority’s 8,600 new voters. The second-term Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, remains wildly popular.
Last month, the McCain campaign startlingly added Arizona to its list of 24 “battleground states,” a fact that state Democrats have clung to like sprinkles on a soft-serve ice cream cone.
“John McCain has striking vulnerabilities here,” said Emily DeRose, spokeswoman for the Arizona Democratic Party. “We are going to take him to the mat. We are not giving him a pass in Arizona.”