A Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released on May 6th finds Hillary Clinton is competitive in the traditional red state of Arizona. The poll tested Hillary Clinton against nine GOP candidates. In each hypothetical contest, Clinton was competitive, with her range varying from a 3-point lead (44-41) over Texas Governor Rick Perry to a 7-point deficit against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (46-39).
Given Chris Christie’s poor showing in other recent polls conducted in other states, he seems unlikely to secure the GOP nomination. Clinton is evenly matched against the two most likely Republican candidates, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Clinton trailed Walker in the poll 44-43. She managed a 41-41 tie against Jeb Bush.
A Democratic presidential candidate has not carried Arizona since 1996, when Bill Clinton defeated Bob Dole in the state by a narrow 46.5 to 44.3 percent margin, with Independent Ross Perot picking up 8 percent of the vote. Barack Obama lost the state by over 8 percentage points in both 2008 and 2012.
Arizona’s red tilt makes it a difficult state for Democrats to target, but Hillary Clinton has the potential to put Republicans on the defensive in the Grand Canyon State. If the Clinton campaign can expand the competitive playing field into Arizona, she could conceivably force the GOP to divert resources away from other swing states to shore up their position in the traditionally Republican stronghold.
Whichever Republican becomes the GOP candidate for President, will also have to overcome any damage to the party brand, created by Arizona’s duplicitous Governor Doug Ducey and the states Tea Party flavored legislature. Arizona Republicans have passed a budget that contained savage cuts to education and Medicaid, creating the potential for an anti-GOP backlash up and down the ticket, in a high-turnout presidential election.
While it is too early to gauge whether Arizona will remain competitive by November of next year, Hillary Clinton is in a strong position to put the state in play. If Arizona Republicans continue to mismanage the state budget, Hillary will be poised to capitalize on their failure. She can easily paint her presidential opponent as a Republican who plays for the same team as Arizona ‘s budget slashing Governor Doug Ducey. If she does that successfully, she would be the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state, since her husband accomplished the feat in 1996.