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Poll: Obama/Romney race a toss-up in Arizona

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Arizona voters who've made up their minds are evenly split between President Barack Obama and likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney, but 18 percent remain undecided, a poll released Monday said.

The statewide Merrill/Morrison Institute poll of 488 registered voters found 42 percent said they would vote for former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, while 40 percent said they would support Obama. Eighteen percent were undecided in the poll, which had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

The electorate is divided along party lines, the poll found: 80 percent of Republicans said they would vote for Romney, 78 percent of Democrats for Obama.

Independents appear to be breaking slightly more for Obama (38 percent) than Romney (28 percent), but the sample of voters not registered with the major parties was small. Further, 34 percent of the 166 independents polled remained undecided.

"In Arizona, like the rest of the nation, political independents may determine who wins in November," said poll director Dr. Bruce Merrill, a senior fellow at Arizona State University's Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

"The eventual outcome also may be dependent on whether former Surgeon General Richard Carmona can mount a vigorous campaign for retiring Sen. John Kyl's seat, a campaign that would stimulate turnout in the Hispanic community. While I think if the election were held today Romney probably would win, it appears Obama can mount a competitive campaign in Arizona," Merrill said in a news release.

From the Morrison Institue:

Romney appears to have the Tea Party support. Among the 39 percent of the electorate who said they support what the Tea Party stands for, 75 percent said they would vote for Romney.

But the poll also found that younger voters disproportionately support Obama while older voters support Romney. No "gender gap" was found among Arizona voters, however, as 40 percent of both men and women said they would vote for Obama.

"Independents will decide this election in Arizona," said Dr. David Daugherty, director of research at the Morrison Institute.

"But, it's important to remember the state's history: Arizona has supported only one Democratic presidential candidate since Harry S. Truman was elected in 1948. Winning Arizona will be an uphill battle for President Obama," Daugherty said.

Arizona voters also were evenly divided on who they would like to see control Congress after November's election. Forty-one percent favored the Republican Party, 40 percent said the Democrats should be in control, and 19 percent said "neither."

Fifty-nine percent of the 488 telephone interviews were conducted in Maricopa County, 16 percent in Pima County and 25 percent in Arizona's other counties, the Morrison Institute said. Forty-nine percent of the voters interviewed were men; 51 percent women. The sample was weighted to be 36 percent Republican, 30 percent Democrat and 34 percent registered independents or "others." The sample was selected so as to include representative samples cell phone users and Hispanics. The sampling error for the statewide sample survey is plus or minus 4.4 percent. The interviews were conducted the second week of April 2012.

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Photos by Will Seberger, photo illustration by Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

Poll questions

If the presidential election this fall ends up as a choice between President Obama and former governor Mitt Romney, would you vote for Obama or Romney?

  • Obama 40%
  • Romney 42%
  • Undecided/no opinion 18%

Regardless of who wins the presidency in November, after the election is over would you rather have the Republicans or Democrats in control of Congress?

  • Republicans 41%
  • Democrats 40%
  • Undecided/no opinion 19%
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