An Arizona State University's Merrill/Morrison Institute poll released on Monday showed the presidential race in a statistical dead heat, with 42 percent of registered voters in Arizona behind Mitt Romney and 40 percent supporting Obama.
Winning Arizona would be a considerable coup for the Obama campaign, expanding the electoral map in a year when 2008 gains in old Republican strongholds, like Indiana and North Carolina, are gravely teetering.
Also benefitting Democrats is the candidacy of Richard Carmona, a Hispanic doctor, soldier, and former surgeon general under the George W. Bush administration who is running for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Jon Kyl and has the potential to galvanize the Latino vote.
“The importance of the Carmona vote and with the debate over 1070, will Hispanics be more motivated to vote this time?” Merrill said. “I think they will be, but the question is by how much. Will it make a big difference or not?”
Merrill added he still believes the economy is the paramount issue for all voters. “I doubt that it’s a game-breaker,” he said of SB 1070.
Gary Segura, a political science professor at Stanford University and a principal at the polling firm Latino Decisions, said he doubts the conditions are right for Democrats to win Arizona. But he said SB 1070 could mobilize Hispanics in other neighboring states and nationwide.