It's increasingly looking like Barack Obama has a serious chance at winning Arizona next year, largely because of the weakness of the GOP candidate field in the state.
Arizona voters are closely divided on Obama but lean toward the negative side, with 46% approving of him to 50% who disapprove. Contrary to most places Obama's approval with Democrats (86%) is actually higher than his disapproval with Republicans (84%) is. He's also on positive ground with independents at 49/45. In most states that approval breakdown by party would put Obama in really good shape but there are a lot more GOP voters than Democrats in Arizona and that's why he's still under water.
Obama trails only one Republican- Mitt Romney- in a hypothetical match up in the state. Romney has a 48-44 advantage against him. This makes Arizona the third state in the last month, along with Nevada and Pennsylvania, where we've found Romney as the only Republican who leads Obama. Romney and Mike Huckabee generally post similar numbers against Obama in our national polling but that's because Huckabee posts much larger leads than Romney against Obama in southern states that the GOP will win regardless of who the party's nominee is. Romney is clearly proving to be the stronger candidate in important swing states, meaning that for whatever it's worth he has claim to the 'electability' mantle right now.
Obama leads Huckabee by 2 points at 46-44, Newt Gingrich by 7 at 47-40, Sarah Palin by 11 at 49-38, and Donald Trump by 12 at 48-36. Arizona voters might not like Obama, but they like him better than any of these folks. Huckabee's favorability is a 35/48 spread, Palin's at 32/62, Gingrich is at 26/59, and Trump comes down at 24/66. Particularly noteworthy in Trump's numbers is that even among Republicans only 38% have a favorable opinion of him to 49% with a negative one. We'll have to see if our polling nationally and in other key states over the next few weeks confirms it, but those numbers suggest that the Trump bubble is already starting to burst.
There's been a lot of speculation that Palin might move to Arizona but if she does she can't expect a very neighborly welcome. Only 27% of voters in the state say they'd like her to move there, compared to 57% who say stay away and 16% who don't offer an opinion either way.
Arizona is not likely to be important to whether Obama actually wins or loses reelection. But it's probably a state he'd like to have as a feather in his cap and if the Republicans nominate a weak enough person against him, he might just get it.
Full results here