Obama and Romney tied in Arizona
Poll shows Obama strength in 'red' state
The battle between President Barack Obama and all-but-certain GOP nominee Mitt Romney for Arizona's eleven electoral votes stands neck and neck, according to a poll released Monday.
Arizona, which has voted for only one Democratic presidential candidate in sixty years, has become a hot battleground in 2012, partly because of the state's increasing Latino population.
The poll from Arizona State University's Merrill/Morrison Institute indicated 42% of registered voters in Arizona backing Romney and 40% supporting Obama. The margin was well within the poll's sampling error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
A large portion of respondents - 18% -- said they were undecided in who they would support in the November's general election. Among independents, the undecided figure was far higher. Thirty-four percent of voters who said they were independents said they hadn't yet picked a candidate to support.
"As the poll shows, the independents will decide this election in Arizona," Dr. David Daugherty, director of research at Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said in a statement accompanying the poll's release. "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."
As Daugherty noted, Arizona has consistently voted Republican for decades, with the single Democratic win coming in 1996 for Bill Clinton. In 2008, Obama made an effort to win Arizona, despite being pitted against a longtime senator from the state, John McCain. Obama eventually lost to McCain by an 8-point margin.
Since then, however, Latinos have grown in population, boosting Democrats' confidence in winning Arizona. Latinos made up 16% of the electorate in 2008, which was an increase from four years earlier. Obama won the demographic by 15 percentage points, 56% to 41%.
On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden made a campaign appearance in the state, expressing confidence in Democrats' chances there in November.
"We think we have a real shot at winning the presidential race here in Arizona," Biden said at the event, which was part of a West Coast campaign swing for the vice president.
Biden added the Obama reelection campaign was actively working to generate support in the state.
"You're going to see organizers here," Biden said.
Republicans have largely thrown cold water on the notion of a Democratic victory in Arizona. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called the idea a "mirage" last week on a conference call with reporters.
The ASU poll was conducted by telephone from 488 registered voters April 9-13. The sampling error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
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