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Beverly Davis

Beverly Davis

Posted: November 3, 2008 10:05 PM

Arizona Going Rogue?


Is it possible that John McCain can lose his home state of Arizona?

With new polls and early voting results showing the state is in play, during the last 48 hours the Obama Campaign has reversed gears and redirected its army of volunteers in the Grand Canyon state back to their home turf to "get out the vote" rather than making calls and canvassing in crucial swing states.

Dave Cieslak, the communications director for the Obama Campaign in Arizona told HuffPost's OffTheBus:

"Of course, our volunteers can go where they want, but for the last several days we've been focusing their calling efforts right here in Arizona. We're certainly moving in the right direction. The AZ poll has us within 2 points of McCain. Project West [Poll] has us within 4, and Rasmussen has [us] within 5 and the Research 2000 has us within 1 point. All of those polls are single digits. The polls are tightening because of our extraordinary volunteers."

The Obama Campaign headquarters in Phoenix was so packed on Monday that volunteers were sitting on the lawn, on the porch, and in their cars in the parking lot with their calling sheets and using their cell phones.

For the past three months, many of the Arizona Obama volunteers spent most of their time making calls - and even traveling - to other battleground states, where an Obama's path to victory relied heavily upon electoral wins in the Rust Belt states of Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and western states like Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.

"I've been in five states for Obama. I was in Ohio for the chunk of October, but I had to come back home to help our downstate candidates and my home state GOTV for Obama" said super volunteer Lauren Kuby from Tempe, AZ, who was an early Obama supporter and organized a Women for Obama group a year ago.

The formerly ruby red state of Arizona is turning purple and might even turn blue according to Kuby. Her district registered 4500 new Democrats in the past two years. However, she still considers an Obama win in Arizona a long shot. "He'll only win here if it's there's a [national] landslide," said Kuby.

Kuby had just returned from a Howard Dean event at her local Democratic headquarters and Don Bivens, Arizona State Party Chair told Huffingtonpost, "You don't get the chairman of the national party in your state the day before a national election, if he doesn't think we can win."

Bivens spent the day with Dean crisscrossing the state with Dean and said that the state party was now closely coordinating their GOTV efforts with the Obama Campaign, expecting - and hoping - for an Obama win.

"Now we've got two major armies and we just passed the millionth registered Democrat in the state. The Republicans have 1.1 million here. But remember, it's the Independents in Arizona who really decide any election. There are 800,000 registered Independents and they broke 2-1 for the Democrats in 2006. Of course, there's the homeboy advantage McCain has but with our ground game and early voting, we've got a shot," said Bivens.

Early voters in Arizona experienced the same 3-5 hour wait as other early voting states and with approximately 120,000 newly registered Democrats since 2006, Bivens felt cautiously confident that his state may go rouge and give Obama a narrow win.

According to Bivens, of the 34% of Arizona voters who requested mail in ballots, Obama was ahead 47-46 in a Bruce Merrill Walter Cronkite School Poll.

Jean Vickers from Tucson is an active Democrat. For the last three months she has been volunteering at her local Democratic office, specifically focusing on GOTV within her district and plans on "popping the champagne" should Obama eke out a victory on Tuesday.

"It's going to be close but I think there are still just too many conservatives in Scottsdale and Phoenix but the new residents are changing that. If we could beat McCain that would be sweet...it would be the first time this state went Dem since the 50s."

"Most people who move to Arizona bring their politics with them and one half of the current registered voters have never seen McCain's name on a ballot or seen him once. The state isn't a Goldwater state anymore. It's definitely purple and may even go blue," predicted Bivens.