Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Arizona still a challenge for Obama, unless Palin is foe

In case there was any doubt what Arizona voters thought about the respective reactions of Barack Obama and Sarah Palin to last month's shooting consider this: Obama leads Palin by 8 points in a hypothetical contest in the state that's only fallen into the Democratic column for President one time since 1948.

A majority of voters still disapprove of the job Obama is doing there with 45% giving him good marks and 51% expressing unhappiness with his performance. But they don't dislike him nearly as much as they do Palin. 57% have an unfavorable opinion of her to only 39% who rate her positively. Her numbers with independents are even worse than her overall ones as 67% of them say they don't like her while only 32% give her good reviews.

If the Republican nominee is someone other than Palin Obama would still have a better chance at winning the state than his party has had since the 90s, but he would start out at a disadvantage against either Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee. Romney is the strongest of the Republicans, leading Obama by a 49-43 margin. That six point spread is closer than what the state saw in 2004 or 2008 and comparable to George W. Bush's margin of victory over Al Gore there in 2000, the last time the state was remotely competitive. Obama comes a little bit closer against Huckabee, trailing by a 48-44 spread.

Obama's basic problem in Arizona, in contrast to states in the region like New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado where his party has made serious strides, is that it remains a place where the plurality of voters define themselves as Republicans. That means for Obama to take the state he needs to rack up a huge lead with independents and/or win over a good number of GOP voters.

He doesn't do either of those things to the extent he needs to in match ups against Huckabee and Romney. He gets just 7% of Republicans against Huckabee while losing 13% of Democrats, so even though he does have a 7 point lead with independents that's not enough. And against Romney he loses 16% of Democrats while picking up just 9% of Republicans and tying with independents. His formula for winning Arizona is getting about 15% of the GOP voter and winning independents by 10 and right now he's not there against Huckabee and Romney.

The long term demographic trends in the state have Arizona moving into the blue column just like many of its neighbors, but it might be a little longer than next year before that happens- unless Republicans hand Obama the gift of running against Palin.

Full results here


Jonny V said...

The long term demographics look great for the Democrats.

The Republicans are definitely very short sighted with their whole appeal to old uneducated white people deal.

I've still got my fingers crossed for the gift of Palin... I hope she at least tries to win the nomination as I think a Palin campaign would be a disaster for the Republicans whether she wins or loses.

I'm sure there are some very powerful GOP people trying to keep her from running right now. Maybe they'll pay her off.

DBL said...

Republicans have little appeal to uneducated people. In 2008 Obama obliterated Republicans 63%-35% among those who didn't graduate high school. Even this year when Republicans were winning many demographic groups the Democrats beat them 57%-36% with this group.

Uneducated people have traditionally been the core of the Democratic Party and aren't going Republican any time soon.

Josh said...

How much is age a problem here -- i.e., Obama's problems with older voters?

Anonymous said...

Year 56 of the Democrats brainless mantra of OMG ARIZONA IS OURS BECUZ OF DA MEXICANS!!! There's nothing more unpopular in Arizona than a Democrat.

Dustin Ingalls said...

DBL, Obama and Democrats generally also clean up with people with higher degrees. The more educated you are, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. And the red-neck Tea Party wing of the GOP base would certainly stop you from drawing any positive conclusions about the actual level of "education" of Republican voters.

"How much is age a problem here -- i.e., Obama's problems with older voters?"

It's not much of a factor, if you look at the crosstabs. He loses most of the age groups except 18-29 against most of the candidates, and he's actually not doing that badly with those over 65. He wins them against Palin, along with everyone else.

chris16 said...

The President has support with the educated progressive over 65 crowd. Anyone that can remember the 50's and doesn't want to go backwards will be a supporter of Obama.
Obama won't get the white undereducated red state voters. He won't get the support of voters that still enjoy belittling people of different sexual orientation. He would get the votes of the pro-life christian that demands that everyone must follow their believes.
President Obama doesn't need the southern red states, the Republicans base, to get to 270.
The Tea Party/Conservative/Republicans/Rino's will have a mud fight to gain the supporters of their red states.

Anonymous said...

Pardon me, but Bill Clinton won Arizona in 1996. So that was the last time the state went blue.

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