Battleground: Arizona

BATTLEGROUND: ARIZONA…. The front page of the Arizona Republic this morning features this headline: “Obama neck and neck with McCain in Arizona.” This is, of course, McCain’s home state, making the recent polls more than a little embarrassing.

Sen. John McCain’s once-comfortable lead in Arizona has all but evaporated, according to a new poll that has the underdog Republican presidential candidate struggling in his own backyard.

With less than a week until Election Day, McCain is leading his Democratic rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, by 2 points, 46 to 44, down from a 7-point lead a month ago and a double-digit lead this summer, according to a poll from Arizona State University.

It’s one of four polls published over the last week or so that show McCain’s lead in Arizona at five points or less. (Another poll this week, from Northern Arizona University, puts McCain up by eight. An outlier?)

As I mentioned the other day, the likelihood of Obama winning Arizona is still very remote. In the last half-century, the state has only supported the Democratic ticket once, and it’s unlikely the second time would come when an Arizonan leads the Republican ticket.

That said, under normal circumstances, if there’s a state in which McCain’s lead drops from double digits to low-single digits, the RNC is inclined to intervene and invest some resources in the state, as we saw earlier this week in Montana. Any chance McCain’s pride would allow the RNC to spend a few bucks in Arizona, just to be safe?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.