When we read the headline from Voxxi Politics this morning (Poll: Obama Leads Romney in Arizona), we had to do a double take. One of the most conservative states in the union is now a swing state? Granted, the Voxxi headline is a bit misleading, because according to the official release by Rocky Mountain Poll (see below), even though President Obama is up two percentage points to Romney, the poll is still a statistical tie. Nonetheless, did anyone actually think that a poll so late in the game coming out of Arizona would have the race so close? By the way, Real Clear Politics shows other polls, and the average spread still has Romney up by 5% in Arizona. In 2008, John McCain won Arizona by a margin of 8.5% and in 2004 President Bush took the state with of 10.5%.
Voxxi asked some one analyst to speak to the poll and this is what he said:
Political analyst Mike O’Neil told VOXXI the new poll results are “stunning.” “
It’s absolutely a shocker and completely unexpected,” he said. “If the poll is accurate, it means we’re absolutely at stake in the presidential election.”
O'Neill also said that the poll could be a bit skewed because, according to what O'Neill told VOXXI, "the poll surveyed several people in Spanish, something that is rarely done. And because it is known that Latinos overwhelmingly favor Obama over Romney, surveying voters in Spanish could have skewed the poll to favor the president."
Nonetheless, the poll also has Democratic challenger Richard Carmona leading Republican candidate Jeff Flake by four percentage points in the state's Senate race. If Carmona were to win, he would become the first person of Puerto Rican descent to become a United States Senator. O'Neill was not as critical of the Carmona results as he was of the presidential poll. Real Clear Politics' average spread is literally a tie between Carmona and Flake.
The Voxxi story concludes:
Petra Falcón, executive director of Promise Arizona in Action, said the passage of SB 1070 is what encouraged many Latino voters to become involved in the political process and favor candidates who are “immigrant friendly.”
“Latinos started waking up and saying ‘I do count,’” Falcon told VOXXI. “They felt they had a responsibility to be in the decision making process.”
Her organization is one of the dozens of groups in Arizona that are encouraging Latinos to register and vote in the upcoming election. Last week, a coalition of organizations, which includes Promise Arizona in Action, announced it registered more than 34,200 Latino voters.
O’Neil said that number is “an incremental amount” but it doesn’t meet “the game changing numbers needed” to guarantee a win for Obama in Arizona.
He also pointed out that Republicans have a 6 percent discrepancy over Democrats when it comes to voter registration in the Grand Canyon State.
“For Arizona to become competitive, that number has to be less,” he said of the GOP’s 6 percent voter registration lead.
Guess O'Neill needs a lesson or two in changing demographics, but that is not the point here. Is it safe to say that Arizona is now in play for the Democrats? Hard to conclude, but the fact that Arizona is being discussed now is quite telling. If that does not confirm that the Latino voters can indeed impact change, we don't know what will.