So, yet again, the New York Times has decided that Arizona is set to become one of our nation's electoral battleground states, with helpful commentary from Arizona State University's Bruce Merrill, David Berman and Joseph Garcia of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy.
Interestingly, the article provides a voter analysis of the state, county-by-county, making note of demographics such as ethnic and religious makeup. But the meat of the article comes from its bottom line (helpfully notated with a "Bottom Line" sub-headline), which we've excerpted in part here:
Of course, Mr. Romney is a 98 percent favorite in Arizona, according to the current FiveThirtyEight forecast. But the days when Republicans can count on carrying the Grand Canyon State may be numbered.
More and more voters are registering as independents. The number of unaffiliated voters has surpassed the number of registered Democrats and is soon expected to overtake the number of Republicans, Mr. Berman said. The ideological middle of Arizona’s electorate may also gain more sway if voters pass Proposition 121, an initiative on the November ballot that would replace the current party primaries with one primary open to all voters. In the open primary system, the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of party.
But the most powerful potential factor pushing Arizona to the political center remains the state’s Latino population and the prospect that Latino turnout rates will rise. Even with depressed turnout, Hispanics doubled as a share of the electorate to 16 percent in the 2008 presidential election from 8 percent in 1992.
As in Texas, it’s long been predicted that this is the year Arizona Latinos will really go to the polls.
“Everyone’s been waiting for Latinos to flex their political muscle,” Mr. Garcia said.
Mr. Merrill added, “I’ve been here 40 years, and it hasn’t happened so far.”
For the rest, including an assessment of the Flake/Carmona race, check out the Times' FiveThirtyEight blog here.