Arizona is a state that many pollsters and political analysts thought would easily go to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
That is because Arizona is traditionally a Republican state where Democrats rarely win. Moreover, the GOP controls its state legislature and major statewide elected positions.
But a Rocky Mountain Poll released over the weekend shows there is a virtual tie between President Barack Obama and Romney. The poll shows Obama leads Romney by 42 percent to 40 percent in Arizona, a state where Obama was not thought to be competitive.
Among Latino voters in Arizona, the poll found Obama leads Romney by a wide margin: 77 percent to 10 percent. It also found that in the state’s race for the open U.S. Senate seat, Democratic candidate Richard Carmona holds a 4 percent lead over Congressman Jeff Flake.
The new poll numbers come after the president was trailing the former Massachusetts governor by as much as 8 percent in the days immediately following the first presidential debate.
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.”
The poll results indicate that Arizona could all of a sudden become a swing state. However, O’Neil said that before jumping to that conclusion, more polls would have to be conducted to confirm Obama’s thin lead.
He said that is because the poll is at the moment an outlier, meaning that it doesn’t match what other recent polls have found.
“These results are extremely provocative,” he told VOXXI. “This will provoke someone else to come here and poll.”
O’Neil also pointed to how the poll surveyed several people in Spanish. He said this could account for part of the discrepancy between this and other polls.
Furthermore, he said the Rocky Mountain Poll results of the state’s U.S. Senate race is a sign that the poll could be credible because those results match what other polls have found.
Another sign he pointed to is the significant lead the poll shows that Obama has among Latino voters in Arizona. He said Obama’s 77 to 10 lead over Romney is “quite plausible” considering that many of the state’s Latino voters are angry at the Republican Party for supporting the state’s tough immigration law passed in 2010.
Petra Falcon, 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.