Long considered one of the most conservative states, Arizona has become slightly less conservative in recent years. This trend started around 2000, somewhat due to the increasing Latino population. Liberal Democrat Janet Napolitano was elected to two terms as governor in 2002 and 2006. Arizona's senior U.S. Senator is John McCain, one of the most moderate Republicans in Congress. Conservative talk show host and former Representative J.D. Hayworth was unable to unseat McCain in 2008. That same year, five out of Arizona's eight U.S. Representatives elected were Democrats, in part due to redistricting that favored Democrats. That pendulum swung back in 2010, and now five out of eight are Republicans.
However, the left has been aggressively going after the top conservative politicians in the state. First they took out conservative Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, getting him disbarred. Then they went after Senator Russell Pearce, the sponsor of SB1070, recalling him out of office. Now their crosshairs are set on popular Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio's lead this election has slipped to four percent. Republican Attorney General Tom Horne is being investigated for campaign violations and may end up forced out of office.
There are three very tight Congressional races this year. The U.S. Senate race between Republican Jeff Flake and Democrat Richard Carmona has conflicting polls showing both candidates ahead, although the reputable Rasmussen Reports has Flake up by six points.
In Arizona's new 9th district, located primarily in South and Central Phoenix, which leans Democrat, black Republican candidate Vernon Parker is neck and neck with Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a former state legislator who was once awarded the “Vladimir Lenin” award by a conservative group for being the most far left state legislator in Arizona. Conflicting polls have been released in that race showing both candidates a few points ahead, which means they are likely in the tightest Congressional race.
In the 1stt District, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick is running to regain her old seat. Iraq War veteran and former state legislator Jonathan Paton is the Republican in the race, and Republican polling shows him five points ahead.
The toughest congressional race for Republicans is Arizona's 2nd district. Gabrielle Giffords' former District Director Ron Barber is running against Martha McSally, the first female combat pilot. A Democratic poll shows McSally way behind, but a Republican poll shows her tied. Barber may end up winning the seat because of sympathy for Giffords, who resigned after behind shot in the head in January 2011.
There are nine ballot measures, some more controversial than others. Proposition 204 would renew an 18% sales tax, essentially a $1 billion tax increase, which had originally been implemented as a “temporary measure.” Polling at this point shows that it is losing. Proposition 115 would provide some much needed overhaul to how judges are selected, so it is no longer as much of a good old boys system. Proposition 121 would open up Arizona's primaries to an open primary system, which would enable more Democrats to get elected. Proposition 116 would give a tax break to businesses for expiring equipment.
Republicans have controlled both houses of Arizona's legislature for years, and there is no indication they will lose either house this election. Romney is polling well in Arizona; even the liberal polls have Romney ahead by seven points. Overall, Republicans are going to do well in Arizona this election.