TNR Super Tuesday Primer

Aside from being John McCain's home state, Arizona is one of America’s fastest growing states, increasing its delegate count and importance over the past 15 years. The state is one of the few to house more registered Republicans than Democrats, but because both parties’ primaries are closed, this shouldn’t make a difference on February 5.

Delegates: Democrats: 67; Republicans: 53.

Format: The Democrats distribute their delegates proportionally via a closed primary; the Republican winner receives all of the state’s delegates via a closed primary.

Democratic Fundraising: Hillary Clinton, $586,531; Barack Obama, $203,001

Republican Fundraising: John McCain, $2,208,374; Mitt Romney, $1,136,555; Rudy Giuliani, $395,556; Mike Huckabee, $8,510.

Polls: Two January polls give McCain and Clinton the leads. In Arizona State University’s Cronkite/Eight poll (1/23), McCain led Romney 41 to 18, while Clinton led Obama 45 to 24. The Rocky Mountain poll (1/26) showed McCain with a similar lead over Romney--40 to 23--but Obama fared better, earning 27 percent compared to Clinton’s 37. This same poll showed Clinton leading Obama only 38 to 32 among most likely voters and those who had already cast ballots.

Endorsements: Obama landed Governor Janet Napolitano’s endorsement earlier this month, while Hillary has racked up various state officials. State Republicans have mainly lined up behind McCain, most prominently his co-senator Jon Kyl, who chairs his Arizona Leadership team. A notable Republican dissenter is anti-immigration celebrity Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, who has endorsed Mitt Romney. The state’s largest newspaper, The Arizona Republic, has endorsed Obama and McCain.

Demographics: Arizona’s large Hispanic population--nearly 30 percent--affects both parties’ primaries: the Democratic, since Hispanic voters are more likely to participate in its primary; and the Republican, by raising the issue of immigration. Rodolfo Espino, assistant professor of political science at Arizona State University, expects Hispanic voters to break towards Hillary, although he attributes this less to the black-brown divide that has been suggested in the media and more to Hillary’s higher name recognition and visibility in Hispanic communities. Obama, who has just started campaigning in the state, is faced with the question of how much to focus on rural, outlying areas, which are difficult to reach but will be important since delegates are allocated proportionally.

Arizona’s large Hispanic population and loose border have made it ground zero in the immigration debate. McCain’s moderate position on immigration has upset many of its anti-immigration voters. Espino notes that many of them were kicking McCain

when he was down a few months ago, but they seem to have mostly fallen back in line since his resurgence. With Florida out of the way, look for Romney to hammer McCain on immigration in the run-up to February 5.

Get a rundown of other states at play at TNR's Super Tuesday Primer, updated with new states every day leading up to February 5.