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Poll: McCain Slipping in Arizona

It’s not considered a swing state, but Sen. John McCain’s home state of Arizona may open a window into the state of the national race. Another poll released over the weekend here shows McCain’s lead has shrunk by 10 percentage points in the past month.

According to the survey — conducted by Myers Research and Grove Insight on behalf of Project New West, a Democratic strategy group — McCain leads Sen. Barack Obama in Arizona by just four percentage points. The same poll, with a margin of error of plus or minus four points, gave McCain a 14-point lead in mid-September. From PolitickerAZ.com:

The poll finds that the contest “is an absolute dead heat” among early voters, with Obama edging McCain 47 to 46 percent. According to the results, 34 percent have already cast ballots through early voting. Among those who haven’t voted yet, McCain is up over Obama 49 to 42 percent.

Other findings include Arizona independents now seen to favor Obama by 10 points, women preferring Obama by eight points and McCain garnering the support of most men, leading Obama 54 percent to 36 percent. Of the total vote in Arizona, five percent plan to, or have already, cast their ballots for third party candidates.

The results are significant because neither candidate has actively campaigned in the state. Nor have the two combatants done local television advertising. If Obama can keep the race tight in McCain’s home state without campaigning, it raises questions about how the Arizona senator will fare in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, where both candidates have been campaigning heavily. MSNBC’s First Read today downgraded Arizona from “Likely McCain” to “Lean McCain.”

Also worth noting is another report from PolitickerAZ. According to new figures from the Arizona secretary of state’s office, the percentage of registered Republican voters has dropped significantly in the state.

Republicans now make up about 37 percent of the voters in Arizona. … Democrats represent 34 percent of the electorate, and the remaining 29 percent are independents or third party voters.

There is little shift among the Democrats’ numbers. While the party touts surpassing the 1-million registered voter mark, its share of voters remains at about the same level, dropping from 35 percent in October of 2004 to 34 percent in October 2008.

Republicans, on the other hand, have shed about 8 percent of their ranks, dropping from 40 percent in 2004 to 37 percent in the latest October count.

The totals now stand at 1,118,587 Republicans, 1,022,252 Democrats, 824,450 independents and less than 25,000 either Green or Libertarian.

The diagram at right, from Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star, shows the voter-registration ratios in Arizona counties. The darker the color, the greater the party’s advantage, with the darkest colors representing a 10 percent or greater margin.

Image has not been found. URL: /wp-content/uploads/2008/10/az-voter-reg.png

Granted, most of Arizona outside the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas is sparsely populated.

But with a slight Democratic advantage in Phoenix, and Tucson solidly Democratic, it isn’t hard to see how, if current trends hold, Arizona could go blue in future elections.

UPDATE: A Rasmussen poll released today has McCain leading in Arizona by 5 percentage points, down from 11 points in late September. The new survey found Obama leads by 13 points among independents. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

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