SURVEY SAYS: MCCAIN LEADS IN ARIZONAThere's been a lot of talk in recent weeks about whether Arizona would be a swing state in the 2008 presidential election.
Maybe not so much. Republican John McCain has widened his lead over Democrat Barack Obama in Arizona to 16 percentage points, according to a new survey from Rasmussen Reports.
The Rasmussen survey reveals that McCain has the support of 52 percent of voters, while Obama has the support of just 36 percent. If you count "leaners," McCain has 57 percent, while Obama has 38 percent.
That's a big jump from a June survey by Rasmussen, which showed a 9-point gap between the candidates.
McCain is winning the fight for independent voters who aren't affiliated with either major political party: Some 45 percent support the Arizona senator, while about one in three support Obama.
McCain appears to be doing a better job of holding his base. He has the support of 86 percent of Republicans, while Obama is being supported by 72 percent of Democrats.
There's a big gender gap, too. McCain leads among male voters by 33 percentage points. Even among women, McCain has gone from being six points down in June to two points ahead in July.
Overall, McCain's general reputation has been on the rise, with 71 percent of the surveyed voters in Arizona viewing him favorably (up from 60 percent in June), and 26 percent viewing him unfavorably. By comparison, 43 percent view Obama favorably (which is a drop of 4 percentage points since June), while 55 percent view him unfavorably.
The poll was taken after Obama had returned from his world tour and while the McCain campaign was launching a series of negative ads against Obama that linked him to vapid celebrities and called him the darling of the liberal media. (It wasn't that long ago that McCain was the darling of the "liberal media"; perhaps he's hoping that voters will sympathize with a jilted lover?)
The attack ads seem to have had an impact. McCain has picked up momentum in Rasmussen's national polls, although they continue to show a neck-and-neck race.
Here's what else you think (according to Rasmussen):
• You like the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative, which would ban preferences for women and minorities. It had the support of 46 percent of the voters and was opposed by 27 percent.
• You're not letting the economic doldrums get you down. Nearly half of you still rate the U.S. economy as the best in the world, compared to 41 percent of people across the nation. About half of you think the nattering nabobs of negativity in the media make the economy sound worse than it really is.
• Speaking of the media elite: You're onto their games. Nearly three-quarters of you--72 percent--think most reporters try to help the candidate they want to win the election, and 58 percent of you say most reporters are now helping Obama. (About 11 percent of you think the media are trying to help McCain.)
• You're starting to have some doubts about Gov. Janet Napolitano. Forty-seven percent of you say she's good or excellent, which is a drop of 5 percentage points since June; 27 percent say she's doing a poor job.
• A whopping 55 percent of you say that you'd rather reduce the price of gas and oil than protect the environment, while 35 percent say the environment is more important.
• You're convinced that we're winning the war on terror! Fifty-nine percent of you say we've got the terrorists on the run, while just 18 percent say the terrorists are winning.
• You're not buying the idea that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror: 41 percent say Afghanistan is where the action is, while just 30 percent say Iraq.
• President George W. Bush's popularity continues to slide, with 34 percent of you rating him as good or excellent. That's down 5 percentage points from June.
LOST IN THE MAILDemocrat Robert Robuck, who hopes that voters will back him over Pima County Supervisor Ramón Valadez in the Sept. 2 primary, has never voted in Pima County.
Robuck, who moved here from Sacramento, Calif., four years ago, says he tried to register once, but the form must have been "lost in the mail."
Robuck first registered to vote in Arizona earlier this year. He insists he always voted when he lived in California, but when he moved to Sahuarita with his family in 2004, he had other things on his mind.
Robuck was first busy building his home and caring for a sick relative. He says that when he finally finished building the house in 2006, he and his wife registered to vote by mail. When they went to vote in the February 2008 presidential-preference election, they discovered his wife was registered, but he wasn't.
"Then I postponed it, and then I finally filled out the forms and went down to the (Motor Vehicle Division), and then made sure I was registered so I could vote in this (upcoming) presidential election," he says. "At that time, I didn't know I was going to run for office. It wasn't until April (that) I threw in my name."
Robuck says friends warned him not to say his first attempt to register failed because of bad postal service.
"But it's the truth," he says. "It got lost in the mail."
Robuck recently picked up the endorsement of local author Chuck Bowden. We suspect that has more to do with Bowden's friendship with Republican Supervisor "Sugar" Ray Carroll than it does with Robuck's overall qualifications for the job.
BALANCING THE BOOKSThe state's latest financial numbers, which include some figures from the end of the last fiscal year, show that our economy continues to spiral downward.
The good news: State agencies didn't spend all the money they anticipated, so there's an extra $189 million still left in those bank accounts. That includes $97 million from the Department of Education and $54 million from AHCCCS, the state's health-insurance program.
The bad news: Sales tax collections continue to lag behind projections. Overall, the state took in 2.3 percent less in sales taxes than it did in the previous year, which is the first time that's happened since 1981--and that was the year that the state eliminated the sales tax on food.
Individual income-tax collections were down 9 percent for the full year, and corporate income tax collections were down 20 percent.
We keep hearing that the Legislature will have to swing into a special session after the November election. Why have a special session of lame ducks instead of waiting until the new session starts in January? Well, much will depend on how far the Senate slides to the right during the upcoming election season. Gov. Janet Napolitano may be more inclined to work with the devils she knows.
MELVIN-HERSHBERGER SHOWDOWN!Set your TiVo: The big televised debate between Rep. Pete Hershberger and Al Melvin, the two Republicans vying for the Senate seat in Legislative District 26, is this Friday, Aug. 8, on KUAT Channel 6's Arizona Illustrated. The program airs at 6:30 p.m. and repeats at 12:30 and 5:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 9.
For more on the race, see "Split Ends" in this issue.