Arizona Capitol Times: Most Arizona voters say elections are fair and secure
Th newest update to the Arizona Voter's Agenda survey found Arizonans believe their elections are secure, and identified priorities as increasing housing affordability, addressing water shortages, reforming immigration policies and investing in critical infrastructure, transportation and education.
Arizona voters tend to reach a consensus on the issues they want to see focused on, but often do not see the same areas of strong public support reflected on the campaign trail. And within area of consensus, there are still splits in what voters believe to be the best solutions and continued frustration with lack of action by legislators.
The survey conducted by Center for the Future of Arizona and HighGround Public Affairs, took random samples of 500 likely voters reflective of the party, age, region and gender demographics. Pollsters asked open-ended questions to gauge where voter concerns lie.
Sybil Francis, president and CEO of the survey’s sponsor, Center for the Future of Arizona, said one of the main goals of the survey was to highlight areas of agreement.
“In this narrative of polarization and division, we get the impression that there’s no bridging these divides,” Francis said. “It’s the people who don’t see the common ground who are dominating the air waves.”
Paul Bentz, senior vice president of research and strategy at HighGround Public Affairs, said this year’s results are not unlike years prior as voters consistently prioritize education. Bentz also notes misalignment in campaign messaging and concerns of voters.
He points out to the “very passionate voters,” who interface with candidates early on and can often skew messaging to cater to their base.
“Campaigns see the wedge issues. They operate on the places where they can get a margin of leg up on their opponent,” Bent said. “But these are great opportunities where they don’t have to segment out small groups but can appeal to large collections of voters.”
The results have a margin of error of 4.3%.
Mistrust in Arizona’s election remains a strong talking point on campaign trails.
But the survey found that 74% of all voters rate Arizona elections as fair, 70% rate them as secure, 80% believe in the accuracy of the August primary election and 77% of voters are confident that the results of the November general election will be accurate.
Polling also found broad support of early in-person voting and ensuring all candidates have the same signature requirements.
It revealed 64% of respondents are also looking for candidates who can compromise and work across party lines.
Education continues to be a consistent concern for Arizona voters.
There is sweeping agreement among both political parties on ensuring Arizona schools have quality teachers and in increasing teacher pay.
Education funding saw more of a split in percentages as 69% of Republicans and 97% of Democrats support increased funding for K-12 public education.
Reducing financial barriers for students to attend colleges also saw similar differences as 65% of Republicans supported it, as compared to 98% of Democrats.
Closing gaps in educational outcomes for vulnerable populations, including low-income residents, those with disabilities and English language learners saw 71% support from Republicans and 95% support from Democrats.
Marisol Garcia, president of the Arizona Education Association, noted the distance between voter support and true legislative change.
“Almost every election year, polls will show that voters and parents are genuinely concerned with the state of education in Arizona,” Garcia said. “And it’s every year that we have to go down and fight.”
HOUSING AFFORDABILITY AND HOMELESSNESS
Housing affordability was one of the newest additions to the survey after a second round of polling in August.
The poll showed 84% of Republicans and 94% of Democrats supported increasing housing affordability, though there continues to be disagreement on best ways to address the housing shortage in the state.
Tom Simplot, director of the Arizona Department of Housing, said the state’s housing shortage is reaching a critical point.
According to internal analysis, the state is facing a shortage of around 270,000 housing units statewide and around 150,000 to 160,00 in metro Phoenix, according to Simplot.
“What we are seeing here in the polling is the humanization of these numbers,” Simplot said.
Simplot advocated for clearing the way for developers in local jurisdictions, though other housing advocates see develops as the cause for rising rents across the state.
Mass Liberation Arizona, an advocacy group, put out a call for Phoenix residents on Instagram to testify to displacement and rising housing costs in front of the city of Phoenix officials.
The post pointed to, “landlords, banks, developers and police,” as drivers of housing woes in central Phoenix.
ECONOMY, INFLATION AND STATE SPENDING
Economic concerns stemmed beyond housing and centered around addressing inflation, rising gas prices and increasing job creation and business investment.
Nearly 90% of voters supported ongoing investments in education, transportation systems and public safety and 82% supported investing in critical infrastructure instead of continuing to cut taxes.
WATER AND ENVIRONMENT
Water was also a top area of concern as 95% of respondents supported securing Arizona’s water future and addressing the long-term drought.
And 85% supported investing available funding to address drought resiliency, clean air, energy improvement in rural areas, electric grid resiliency and forest fires.
Voters finally prioritized immigration.
Results show there is support for reforming immigration systems to allow for a more comprehensive pathway to citizenship for the general population as well as for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
WHAT DIDN’T MAKE THE SURVEY
Survey results also pointed out the issues that did not reach the level of support necessary to be considered a priority of voters.
Less than half supported opposing the teaching of critical race theory, reducing income taxes, eliminating mail-in voting, changing the law to require ID to vote or completing the border wall.
Francis and Bentz also noted, though it did not make the survey, abortion was also one of the key issues on the rise.