The Obama campaign is looking to expand the battleground states map to include Arizona, opening campaign offices and registering voters across the state despite its Republican governor, two Republican senators, and a history of voting Republican in presidential elections broken, in the past 50 years, only by Bill Clinton. But things may be changing:
“It is going to be a swing state,” said Jim Messina, the president’s campaign manager. “The question is, whether we can get enough people registered to put it in play this year.”
“If you just close your eyes and look at the census numbers, look at the number of unregistered voters, look at how this is the only state in the country that didn’t have a primary or a contested general in 2008, so there was no organizing,” Mr. Messina said as he ticked off the factors that work in their favor. “And look next door. Look at New Mexico, look at Colorado, look at California. All that stuff is going to come to Arizona. The question is, can we get it there in time? How expensive is it do it?”
Markos has extensively analyzed some of those census numbers, along with Latino voting margins in 2008 and polling this year:
In 2008, John McCain won his home state of Arizona by nine points. Sixteen percent of the voters were Latino, and they went to Obama by a 56-41 margin.
Had Arizona Latinos voted Obama 80-20, and had everything else remained the same, it would’ve been a one-point state, well within the exit poll’s margin of error.
When you look at it like that, it becomes clear why the Obama campaign thinks it’s at least worth making an early effort; later, they’ll assess if they’re succeeding at putting the state in play and decide whether to keep Arizona in the general election game plan. And the beautiful thing is, even if the Obama campaign ultimately decides not to contest Arizona, Democrats running in downballot races will benefit from increased voter registration.