by David Safier
Nate Cohn writes in the New Republic that Obama has at least a fighting chance of taking Arizona. Cohn's basic premise is, Obama underperformed here in 2008 because he was up against our favorite son John McCain and would have had a shot at taking the state against any other Republican candidate.
Arizona was McCain’s home state and Obama probably would have won against a different candidate. In 2004, Bush won Arizona by 10.47 percentage points, but Obama only improved over Kerry’s performance by a net-2 percentage points in Arizona, compared to a net-9.72 percent nationally. If Arizona had moved with the rest of the country, the state would have been a dead heat. But the southwest moved even more decidedly toward Obama than the rest of the country, as Obama made bigger gains among Latino voters than the rest of the country. Indeed, if Obama had improved over Kerry in Arizona by the same amount he did in Colorado, Nevada, or New Mexico, he could have carried Arizona by as much as 5 percentage points.
McCain performed far better with Arizona's Hispanic voters than Romney will. Obama only got 56% of the vote in 2008 while he's currently polling at 74%. That's going to make a big difference, especially with strong voter registration and Get Out The Vote efforts.
The article doesn't mention three other factors that are likely to influence the outcome. Obama didn't contest Arizona in 2008. If he has a strong presence here this year, that will certainly improve his chances. On the other hand, this is likely to be a closer election than in 2008, so you can't really predict Obama's 2012 margins based on what might have happened if McCain weren't the nominee in 2008. And then there's the Mormon factor. Mormons tend to be reliable voters and trend Republican any election year, but Romney will certainly increase the number of Mormon voters who go to the polls, and his margin of victory with that voting bloc should be through the roof.
Bottom line: It could be very close in Arizona, with the victory going to the better run campaign.