On Tuesday, Arizona Republicans and Democrats will be permitted to vote for their respective party’s presidential nominees, but independent voters will be barred from participating in the closed election.
State elections officials and Arizona Republican and Democratic party executives had thought — perhaps “hoped” would be a better word — thousands of independent voters would re-register into one of the major parties to participate in the presidential preference election, but that largely failed to happen. Only 1 percent of the state’s independent voters made the change in time to vote.
Both Republican and Democratic voters will have to search long ballots to find their choices.
The ballots each will feature 24 presidential candidates, but only four Republicans and two Democrats are considered viable.
On the Republican side, the lineup of candidates running legitimate national campaigns consists of Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
The other 20 names on the GOP ballot feature former national candidates who have since dropped out of the race such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani plus a cluster of political pranksters such as Michael P. Shaw of Glendale and Jack Shepard of Rome, Italy, who completed a simple two-page document to get their names on the ballot.
Orders of names for the party ballots were drawn by lot by Secretary of State Jan Brewer on Dec. 18.
Romney is in the GOP’s third spot; Paul, eighth; Huckabee, 11th; and McCain, 12th.
On the Democratic side, the bona fide contenders are Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, listed fifth, and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, 16th.
The Democratic ballot is just as crowded with never-really-were candidates.
Both Republicans and Democrats have spent considerable time campaigning in Arizona, one of more than 20 states coast to coast conducting nominating elections or caucuses on Super Tuesday.
Then-viable Republican candidates largely stumped in Arizona last year, when some polls showed McCain could be vulnerable, but the Republican contenders have since appeared to concede the state to the man who has solidified his position as the GOP front-runner in recent weeks.
A statewide Rocky Mountain Poll conducted between Jan. 20 and Jan. 24 had McCain ahead of Romney among Republican voters by 13 percentage points.
Meanwhile, the Democratic race has grown more intense in Arizona as Clinton and Obama have traded wins in early-primary states. Clinton, Obama and their spouses have campaigned in Arizona in recent weeks.
The Rocky Mountain Poll showed Clinton ahead of Obama by 6 percentage points, within the survey’s margin of error of 6.5 percentage points.