With the 2012 presidential election just over six months away, the latest statewide Merrill/Morrison Institute poll found that Arizonans are evenly divided on whom they will support in November.
According to the poll of 488 registered voters, 42 percent said they would vote for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, while 40 percent said they would support President Barack Obama and 18 percent were undecided. Because the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent, if the election were held today the contest for Arizona’s 11 electoral votes would be a “toss up.”
The poll found that the electorate is divided along party lines: 80 percent of Republicans said they would vote for Romney, 78 percent of Democrats for Obama. Although the sample of political independents is small (n=166), independents appear to be breaking slightly more for Obama (38 percent) than Romney (28 percent). However, the independent vote is still up for grabs because 34 percent of independents said they are undecided.
“In Arizona, like the rest of the nation, political independents may determine who wins in November,” said poll director Dr. Bruce Merrill, a senior fellow at Morrison Institute for Public Policy. “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.”
Romney appears to have the Tea Party support. Among the 39 percent of the electorate who said they support what the Tea Party stands for, 75 percent said they would vote for Romney.
But the poll also found that younger voters disproportionately support Obama while older voters support Romney. No “gender gap” was found among Arizona voters, however, as 40 percent of both men and women said they would vote for Obama.
Remember Arizona has not sent its Electoral College votes to a Democrat since Harry Truman in 1948.
But, if anything this poll may make more of a case for Romney to add an Hispanic to the ticket – like Senator Marco Rubio od Florida or Governor Susan Martinez of New Mexico.