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