azcentral: Arizonans want a better future, and (surprisingly?) we agree on how to get it
Opinion: From better education outcomes to rural water regulations, Arizonans agree on dozens of specific actions to improve the state - some by 80% or more.
Arizonans agree on more than we disagree.
Let that sink in.
Given the national narrative about how polarized Americans are, few people would expect to hear that Arizonans agree on the fundamental issues that shape and impact our lives and futures.
But that’s what we learned when the Center for the Future of Arizona partnered with Gallup to ask Arizonans their thoughts about the future. What we found is that Arizonans – from rural and urban communities, of all ages, incomes, races and ethnicities, and even political affiliation – have high levels of agreement on what is needed to create a stronger and brighter future for our state.
7 issues gained wide support
Our survey is expansive and truly representative of Arizonans. More than 3,500 people responded to the Gallup Arizona Survey from across the state, making this one of the most comprehensive surveys of its kind in Arizona.
It builds and expands upon CFA and Gallup’s groundbreaking survey in 2009. The results provided the foundation for The Arizona We Want, a shared vision of success based on what matters most to Arizonans that expresses their highest aspirations and hopes for the future. Arizona has changed in the decade since then. It was time for an update.
What did we find through the 2020 Gallup Arizona Survey? We learned that Arizonans agree on seven shared public values – issues strongly supported by at least 70% of Arizonans:
- A highly educated and skilled population for Arizona.
- Affordable health care that covers preexisting conditions and provides accessible mental health services.
- Good-paying jobs and the education and training needed for all Arizonans to fully participate in a vibrant economy.
- Sustainable practices that protect our air, land and water and support a high quality of life for all.
- Civic engagement that solves problems and democracy that works for all.
- Fair, just, and equal treatment of all people.
- Comprehensive immigration reform that provided for a pathway to citizenship including for “Dreamers.”
Arizonans want more for our state
Arizonans have high aspirations and we also know that we have work to do to live up to them. Seven of every 10 Arizonans are proud to live here, but fewer than half think the state is headed in the right direction.
Arizonans don’t have much faith in our elected leaders to lead us through tough times (28%) or to work across party lines (26%.) Maybe that explains why 60% support ranked-choice voting that would force lawmakers to appeal to a wider, less partisan swath of the electorate. These reforms and others that would make voting more convenient and accessible may be the best way to close the gap between what Arizonans want and what they are getting.
Knowing what Arizonans want and what brings them together is the first step in creating the public will for change.
We need to make change, because Arizonans want more for our state, for ourselves and for each other. We are all in this together. And there are too many Arizonans who don’t have opportunities to advance their lives or are outright suffering from poor health care, housing challenges and food insecurity. And that was before they were hit hard by the pandemic.
We even agree on what actions to take
How do we close the gap between where we are and where we want to be for every Arizonan?
With action. The survey found agreement on 42 specific actions we can drive to create the change Arizonans want. Forty-two! That sets a powerful agenda to drive Arizona’s future forward.
Here is a sampling of the actions Arizonans want:
- 79% want to close gaps in educational outcomes for students regardless of their background or ZIP code.
- 85% want mental health services available and affordable for all Arizonans who need them.
- 85% want regulations to protect rural water supplies.
- 77% want criminal justice reform.
- 76% want to make civics education a priority in schools.
- 77% want automatic voter registration when applying for a state ID/driver’s license.
- 84% want to reduce heat in our urban areas and across the state
What can you do?
How you can help make these changes
As a start, go to CFA’s website to link to information about the 2020 Gallup Arizona Survey, where you can download The Arizona We Want: The Decade Ahead report.
Take the survey and compare your responses with those of other Arizonans. Or arrange with CFA for your organization or community to take the survey. Use the findings to inform policy, practice and investments to advance actions supported by Arizonans.
As we emerge from the health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, reckon with systemic racism, and see our democracy threatened by misinformation and eroded trust in elections, we can pause and ask ourselves: What do we want for Arizona?
The 2020 Gallup Arizona Survey has answers. It is up to us to make change happen. To look to each other, our communities and our elected leaders to build trust in each other based on our shared public values and to hold each other accountable for our actions.
We all have a role in achieving The Arizona We Want. Let’s start working together today to create a stronger and brighter future for all.
Sybil Francis is president & CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings Arizonans together to create a stronger and brighter future for Arizona.