Thinking President Obama's reelection bid could include a victory in Arizona is apparently not a romantic left-wing fantasy, a new poll suggests.
Sure there's some time left between April and November, and its only 488 registered Arizona voters, but a contest between President Obama and GOP nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney would be a "toss up," according to the poll from Arizona State University's Morrison Institute.
Forty-two percent said they'd pick Romney, 40 percent for Obama, and 18 percent didn't make up their minds. (The margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percent).
The voting habits of Arizonans in past years haven't exactly hinted at the desert people warming up to Democrats -- seven of the 10 members of Arizona's congressional delegation are Republicans. Republicans own the state House, the state Senate, and all of the state's 11 executive branch positions except for two corporation commissioners.
Still, even before the Republican nominee choice was clear, Public Policy Polling -- a Democratic polling firm -- found Obama was down by no more than one percent to any of the four GOP hopefuls remaining back in February.
A way-too-early poll in October found a similar result.
Bruce Merrill, who directed the poll released yesterday, says things look like they're in Romney's favor, but that depends on a few things.
"In Arizona, like the rest of the nation, political independents may determine who wins in November," Merrill says in the poll announcement. "The eventual outcome also may be dependent on whether former Surgeon General Richard Carmona can mount a vigorous campaign for retiring Sen. John Kyl's seat, a campaign that would stimulate turnout in the Hispanic community. While I think if the election were held today Romney probably would win, it appears Obama can mount a competitive campaign in Arizona."
It appears the independents like Obama -- 38 percent to 28 percent for Romney -- but that doesn't mean much since there's another 34 percent who haven't picked a party or a candidate.
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David Daugherty, the research director at the Morrison Institute, is also saying it's the independents who will decide the winner of Arizona's electoral votes.
"As the poll shows, the independents will decide this election in Arizona," he says. "But, it's important to remember the state's history: Arizona has supported only one Democratic presidential candidate since Harry S. Truman was elected in 1948. Winning Arizona will be an uphill battle for President Obama."
Conservative news websites like the Daily Caller have already dismissed this poll, claiming Merrill's the "go-to pollster for the Democratic Party," and criticized just about everything included in what it calls the "magical poll."
Outside of polls, Romney's raised more money from Arizonans than Obama has, and Obama's reelection campaign just opened a new office in Glendale on Sunday.