Does that change when McCain is not at the head of the ballot? Not really. McCain won the Grand Canyon state by nine points last November and depending on the candidate, the Republicans retain that lead over Obama. Well, sort of. Obama is tied with Sarah Palin while Huckabee and Romney lead the president by four and seven points, respectively.
Here's the breakdown:
Obama: 45%The one theme that continues to run throughout these head-to-head polls against Obama is that Sarah Palin continues to lag behind her male counterparts among women. That holds for polls both on the national and state level. Democrats have long carried a fairly sizable advantage among women in elections (dependent upon several other variables as well) and it could certainly be hypothesized that the Republicans could neutralize that by running women for various offices. That may well be the case, but there is no evidence that Sarah Palin is the woman to close that gap. Christian at GOP12 has co-opted this theme (something I've been pointing out throughout the polling conducted so far this year) to some extent, but has done the numbers in terms of the Republicans' (Huckabee, Palin and Romney) favorable/unfavorable ratings. Let's take a moment and look at the raw numbers from a support perspective.
MaleThis isn't a national poll and this is a red state, so that explains some of this. We're just dealing with more Republican women. Even then, Palin does worse than do either Huckabee or Romney among women. Romney actually bests Obama there. When the national numbers are released tomorrow, this will definitely be an area to look first.
Gender gap: Huckabee +7
Gender gap: Palin -1
Gender gap: Romney +12
Other than that, PPP's main motivation in doing this particular poll was to see if the home state effect had worn off without McCain as the GOP standard bearer. The results above show that it has disappeared to some extent. DiSarro, Barber and Rice (2007) examine this very question and find that, on average, presidential candidates will gain just more than five points in their home states relative to other recent candidates (That encompasses all the major party candidates from 1880-2004.). Again, McCain won Arizona 54-45 last November. Subtract five percent from McCain's total and you have the exact same 49-45 breakdown at the Huckabee result above. Romney did a little better and Palin a little worse. It is obviously a bit more involved than that, but on average, the Republican support dropped off by 5.33 points. Most of that difference can be explained by the fact that Obama is holding onto his voters better than the other Republicans are holding onto McCain's. Depending upon which Republican he was up against, Obama lost anywhere from 2-5% of his voters whereas the loss range for the Republicans and McCain voters was 9-10%.
As always, let me close by saying that it is still extremely early to be reading much of anything into any of these polls (Rob has already rightfully pointed this out in the comments section below.). The trend among female voters, though, is one to continue to track. It continues to undermine any potential Palin candidacy.
See also 2012 polling (on the state level) from earlier in the summer in Louisiana, Minnesota, North Carolina and Texas.
Expectations and the 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination
About that New Jersey Governors Poll, Part III
State of the Race: Virginia Governor (9/20/09)