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Elections, Politics

No, Mr. Obama, Arizona is not a swing state

Posted: April 29, 2012 at 8:30 am   /   by

We’ve chuckled at Obama’s treatment of Arizona as a swing state not once, not twice, but at least thrice here at Western Free Press. Now the Arizona Republic is getting in on the act:

Conventional wisdom holds that both parties are losing ground in Arizona to independent registration. To a certain extent that is true. But Democrats are hemorrhaging much more than Republicans.

Since the last presidential election in 2008, Republican registration has actually gone up slightly in the state, by about 15,500 voters. Democratic registration has declined by nearly 70,000.

For the 2008 presidential election in Arizona, the Republican registration advantage was 96,000 voters. Today, it is 181,000 voters.

In actuality, the Republican advantage is even greater because Republicans turn out for elections in greater percentages than either Democrats or independents. In the 2008 general election, turnout in Maricopa County was as follows: Republicans, 81 percent; Democrats, 76 percent; independents, 66 percent. (Statewide turnout percentages by party are unavailable, something Secretary of State Ken Bennett, if he wanted to be useful, could remedy.)

There’s unlikely to be much crossover voting (Republicans voting for the Democratic candidate or vice versa) in this election. If anything, Mitt Romney’s ability to get rural Democrats in Arizona is probably greater than Obama’s ability to attract urban Republicans.

To overcome the increased Republican registration advantage, Obama would need to capture around 65 percent of the independent vote. There’s no indication that independents are breaking, or likely to break, that decisively for Obama this election.

Things can, of course, change. But unless Democrats in Arizona reduce the registration disadvantage considerably between now and the election, I wouldn’t pay much attention to claims that Arizona is in play or to polls purporting to show the race is close here.

We’ve said it before; we’ll say it again. Please, Mr. Obama, divert as much money as possible away from crucial swing states like Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia and dump it into Arizona. Please do.
Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook