Tempe, Az.-With Barack Obama surging ahead in most national polls, some by as many as 13 percent, the one state that John McCain should be able to count on is his home state of Arizona, right?
The Republican presidential candidate and veteran senator, who has homes in Cornville and Sedona, Az., has seen his state go from nothing short of a safe bet, to having Obama increase his advertising in the state.
And it may be working.
Arizona has long been considered a red state, and even produced the person many feel responsible for the conservative revolution, former senator and 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. But now, some students and Arizona residents aren’t so sure.
“I’m thinking that McCain is not standing up more for border issues, after all he is from this state and we have a big border problem,” said 54-year old Lynn Turck, who has lived in Arizona her entire life and has worked on the Arizona State University’s Tempe campus for nine years. ” I don’t think he’s going to win (the Election), I don’t think he’s going to win his own state, to tell you the truth.
That prediction may come true. According to some polls, McCain is in a statistical dead-heat with Obama. The NBC/Mason-Dixon poll has McCain with a four-point lead on Obama, 48-44 percent, with a four-point margin of error. Realclearpolitics.com has McCain leading Arizona by an average of just 3.5 percent.
“We have our own issues right here, and he’s never paid any attention to them here in the state, and he doesn’t seem to care (about them) in the presidential election either,” Turck said.
At Arizona State, most students claim the campus is more liberal compared to the rest of the traditionally conservative state. Elisia Simmons, a single mother and sophomore religious studies major, said she would have voted for John McCain in the past, but now the life-long Arizona resident is a member of the ASU College Democrats.
“I don’t think McCain is a president we need right now,” Simmons said. “Four years ago, I would have voted for him, but as far as his issues on the economy. I’m a single mom, and Obama is going to do more to help me out than (McCain).”
The economy has been at the center of the campaign since the stock market crashed in September and has dominated nearly every speech, rally and debate the candidates have been through.
In Phoenix, the issue that most local candidates, such as the County Prosecutor and Sheriff are campaigning on is also an issue that at one time was a focal point during the primaries: Illegal immigration.
With McCain being from a border state, immigration would surely be a strong issue for him, but Simmons said McCain and Obama haven’t established themselves on the issue.
“It’s a real big issue, and I wish more of it was talked about, especially from McCain” she said, ” I think one of the reasons they’re not talking about it is because it’s a controversial issue.”
Simmons believes a program needs to be created to help illegal immigrants become legal, because they will do the jobs most Americans refuse to do.
Kenaly Rashad, a senior dental major who lives in nearby Messa, Az., agrees immigration is the important presidential issue facing Arizona, but like many Americans, she believes higher taxes is the ultimate issue.
“I think taxes are the big thing, if you look at Obama’s plan it’s going to raise taxes,” Rashad said.
Most students believe the state will likely go Republican despite the Obama ads, polls and college students on campus, but one thing could be clear in Arizona: It won’t be easy for McCain to keep his home-state advantage.
“(The campus) is pretty divided actually, but its pretty much Obama,” senior English major Crista Stewart said. “But most of the state is for McCain, but I actually see a lot more Obama supporters on campus then McCain.”
Contact public affairs reporter Brock Harrington at [email protected]