The relatively sparse polling of Arizona has shown Republican Mitt Romney ahead of President Obama, often by comfortable margins. That's predictable: Arizona is a reliably Republican state, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) beat Obama there by 9 percentage points in 2008. So a new Rocky Mountain poll of the Grand Canyon State surprised everyone — including the pollster — when it gave Obama a 2-point lead over Romney, 44 percent to 42 percent among likely voters. The same poll, conducted entirely after Obama's widely panned debate, also puts the Democrats' Senate candidate, Richard Carmona, ahead of Republican Rep. Jeff Flake by 4 points. Is it plausible that as Obama's poll numbers take a hit nationwide, he could be pulling ahead in the land of Barry Goldwater and tough anti-immigration laws?
Romney will probably take Arizona, but...: This poll is very likely an outlier, says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, but there are some interesting details in it "that suggest Arizona could be more in flux than we realize." Obama's slim lead is from Latinos, and this poll is one of the few conducted in Spanish as well as English. Also, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson siphoned off 3 percent of the vote, which is "believable." Certainly if Carmona's Senate bid brings out Latino voters, that's good for Obama.
Obama won't win Arizona: "Given that Obama's trailing nationally and locked in a tight race in states like Nevada and Colorado," he's almost certainly not ahead in Arizona, says Nate Cohn at The New Republic. With native son McCain not on the ballot, there are several "quite plausible" ways Obama could get 47 or 48 percent of the vote — if Latinos come out in stronger numbers and Obama doesn't lose more white voters — but even then, "the final 2 percent get quite difficult." The biggest tell that Arizona is staying red, though, is Team Obama's decision not to contest the state.
"Could Obama win Arizona? Here's the math."
Arizona only goes blue in a national landslide: The state's shifting tides make it "plausible that Mr. Obama could win Arizona if he is running strongly nationwide," says Nate Silver at The New York Times. But since the national race is tied, Team Romney can relax about Arizona. Still, "there is a potentially troubling aspect of the poll for Mr. Romney": It provides more evidence that that English-only polls undercount Latino voters, and thus Obama support. If that's true, Romney needs to worry about Colorado, Nevada, and even Virginia a lot more than "the unlikely possibility that Arizona has suddenly become a swing state."
"Arizona and the Spanish-speaking vote"