More evidence that presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the GOP better make inroads in solving their problems with Latin voters — and fast. Romney and Barack Obama are virtually neck and neck now in Arizona:
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.
And — once again, as elsewhere — it’s clear that independent voters are up for grabs:
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.
The sound you soon hear may be the sound of Mitt Romney’s Etch a Sketch as he tries to inch back to his pre-Republican primary immigration positions.
Meanwhile, this summer there could be a vote in the Senate that further impacts the Presidential race…
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.