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    Michael Ignatov/Arizona Daily Wildcat Democratic National Committee Chairman, Gov. Howard Dean speaks the day before the general election in Tucson, Ariz., Monday, Nov. 3, 2008.
    Michael Ignatov/Arizona Daily Wildcat Democratic National Committee Chairman, Gov. Howard Dean speaks the day before the general election in Tucson, Ariz., Monday, Nov. 3, 2008.

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    Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, rallied a crowd of about 150 in Tucson on Monday in an effort to energize local voters to turn this historically red state blue on Election Day today.

    “”We have a real shot to put (Sen.) Barack Obama with Arizona’s electoral votes.”” Dean told the Daily Wildcat. “”We didn’t think we would get there, to be honest, Campus groups buckle down for last campaign activities but in the last two weeks, things have really come together.””

    The only reason Dean was in the home state of Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, the day before the election was because he feels the Democrats have a chance to win it, he said.

    “”Closing the gap (in the polls) really has to be attributed to two factors,”” Dean said. “”One is the Obama campaign and its excitement, and the other is just a steady change in the West generally, in which Arizona is a part.””

    McCain currently holds a 4-point lead over Obama in Arizona polls, a figure within the 4 percent margin of error, according to American Research Group polls.

    Anna Kane, 56, a lifelong Tucson resident, said that she was ecstatic when she heard that Dean was visiting the city, because it showed her that there was a chance Arizona could vote for a Democratic candidate.

    “”I think that (Dean) said it best when he said that he only goes to states where he thinks Barack has a chance to win,”” Kane said.

    As national polls have begun to show Arizona as a toss-up state leaning narrowly in McCain’s favor, it has energized the local Democratic community to rally for a comeback victory, Kane said.

    “”It’s not super surprising (that Obama is so close in Arizona polls), because we have seen the numbers change daily, but the closer we get to the election, the closer the gap is,”” Kane said. “”I think it speaks volumes about how important not just this community, but this state is for the election.””

    Dean said that one can explain the status of Arizona as a potential toss-up state by looking at McCain’s recent history in the area.

    “”Sen. McCain has been more of a Washington senator than an Arizona senator,”” Dean said. “”He hasn’t done the people in Arizona justice in terms of representing their interest, but it is his home state and you would think that you would cede that territory to him.””

    Zach Jaffe, a political science senior, who is volunteering for the Obama campaign while earning three credit hours at the UA, said that another aspect of the recent change in numbers is the amount of volunteer effort from within Pima County.

    “”It really shows the amount of effort that we have been putting forth,”” Jaffe said. “”The fact that we’re in a statistical tie in Arizona really means that our work is starting to pay off.””

    Local volunteers are making a major difference in every race in the western part of the country, Dean said.

    “”You look at Colorado, you look at New Mexico, you look at Arizona, you look at Nevada, all are steadily moving year to year to year, (more) Democratic,”” Dean said. “”I think the party should take some credit here, too. We have been out-raising Republicans 2-to-1, we have been out-registering them 2-to-1, and that has finally taken hold.””

    In the 2000 presidential election, there was a 36 percent turnout among voters between the ages of 18 and 24 that then jumped 11 points to 47 percent youth voter turnout in 2004, according to the Civic Youth Organization. Dean hopes to see it increase again in 2008, he said.

    “”I think the turnout is going to be massive,”” Dean said. “”I think if people can just hang in there and be patient in those lines that they won’t regret that they voted in the most important election in our lifetime.””

    The only concern regarding the younger voters is whether they will actually go to the polls and cast their votes and not just talk about it, he added.

    “”The younger vote clearly favors the Democratic candidates up and down the ticket, but the question is, will it be a vote as opposed to a diffused energy,”” Dean said. “”I have done a lot of talking both at the UA, ASU and in Flagstaff at NAU, and I think that people are going to get out and do it. In fact, I hope they set records.””

    Putting politics aside, Jaffe said that this election should come down to policy, in that people should vote for the person that they believe is most qualified to run the country.

    “”It is not that McCain or Obama are bad people. It is their policy that makes them different,”” Jaffe said. “”That is what people have to look at. They can’t look at all these distractions that are thrown out.””

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