Romney, Obama vie for Arizona's 11 electoral votes

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- President Barack Obama and Republican contender Mitt Romney are vying for Arizona's 11 electoral votes in a state that has a long history of supporting GOP candidates in presidential races.

Obama poured no resources into Arizona in 2008 when the GOP nominee was Arizona's own Sen. John McCain. This time around, the Obama campaign has opened six offices and dispatched volunteers to register voters and encourage them to vote, mostly targeting Hispanics.

Hispanics make up 30 percent of the state's population but haven't turned up at the polls in large percentages in past elections.

Even though Arizona's electorate is now split nearly evenly between Republicans, Democrats and independents, the president still faces an uphill battle. Democrats have won the presidential vote in Arizona only once since 1948 - during Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign.

Romney visited the state in February, holding a round-table discussion with Hispanic and community leaders in Arizona ahead of a rally in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.

Tuesday's election also features a hard-fought race between Republican Jeff Flake and Democrat Richard Carmona to fill Arizona's U.S. Senate seat held by retiring Republican Jon Kyl. National Democrats and Republicans are closely watching three U.S. House races in Arizona that both parties see as winnable.

In the state Legislature, Republicans are trying to maintain their control over both chambers.

Voters also will decide whether to make a one-cent sales tax increase permanent and direct it to education, highway projects, social services and health care. Another ballot proposition would allow the top two finishers in the primary election to advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.