Poll: Many Arizona voters think the candidates are out of touch on the most important issues

Arizona voters appear to agree on a number of issues ahead of this year’s election. Among these areas of agreement? Candidates for office are not focused on what matters to voters.

The Center for the Future of Arizona has released its 2024 Arizona Voter Agenda. It found that voters’ top issues are immigration and border security, water supply and long-term education, with inflation, the cost of living and housing costs not far behind.

But the survey also asked about broader issues facing the state, and found that fewer than half of respondents say Arizona candidates are talking about these issues, and that a majority of Arizona voters want candidates who are willing compromise and work in a bipartisan manner. .

Sybil Francis is the president and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona. She spoke with The Show’s Mark Brodie more about the results, starting with the broad themes or insights that emerged for her from the four policy areas the survey asked Arizonans about: housing and homelessness, growth and government spending, education and immigration.

Sybil Francis

Tim Agne/KJZZ

Sybil Francis in the KJZZ studio in February 2020.

Full conversation

SYBIL FRANCIS: Well, the reason we’re doing this research is really to put the votes of Arizonans at the center of our elections. We hear so much from candidates and then through them, from the media. What we’re really trying to do is where we have areas of agreement that we can share with candidates running for office and others where we can build a positive agenda for Arizona going forward. So what’s striking about our findings is that we have quite a few of these problems. And when we say agreement, we mean at least 50% agreement between Republican Democrats and unaffiliated independent voters.

MARK BRODIE: Was that surprising to you? And I ask this because if you look at state legislatures, or if you look at members of Congress or even in some cases, city councils, you wouldn’t think that there’s a whole lot of agreement on a whole lot of issues.

FRANCIS: You are absolutely right. And that’s one of our goals, is to push back on that narrative of polarization and division. We see that our politics is polarized, but if we’ve been talking to voters in Arizona for 15 years. So in some ways this isn’t a surprise to us, because we’ve found this over and over again, and we’re finding that there’s a disconnect between what Arizona voters are interested in and want to progress in, and what we get out of our politics to fetch. . But yes, I think the findings are a bit of a surprise to a lot of people who hear that story of polarization and division and think that we are hopelessly divided as a state.

BRODIE: So what do you attribute that dichotomy to: voters who say yes, there are things we agree on, and then there are elected officials who won’t let those things happen.

FRANCIS: Well, we’ve been asked for years and years, why are you telling us that Arizona voters agree on these things, Arizonans agree on these things, and why don’t we get that out of our political system? ? We are a nonpartisan, nonpolitical organization and have said that it is very difficult for me to look at this information and these data points and not conclude that there is something about the way we choose our leaders that does not reward them for actually respond to the majority of voters.

BRODIE: So I want to ask you about some of the issue areas that you asked Arizonans about, and one of them was education and you found both strong support and general support for a number of policy issues, including ensuring that teachers are trained in the most effective approaches of teaching reading, to ensure that students have access, students have access to dual enrollment. One of the things that really struck me was that there is a policy point that says that private schools that receive government funding should be held to the same standards as public schools when it comes to financial reporting requirements, academic reporting requirements, and employment standards. Total support was 80% and strong support 66%. That has apparently been one of the main points of contention within the state legislature for years.

FRANCIS: It’s so interesting because we asked about so-called vouchers, or some people call them empowerment grant accounts. And we were only interested in the prospects of likely voters in the upcoming general election. So we asked two related questions. We asked whether Arizona voters are likely to believe that voucher funding was too much, just right, or not enough. It’s interesting that we didn’t reach a consensus on that. We need 50% or more to get an issue on the agenda of Arizona voters. So we have that as a floor. We did not achieve that with any of these questions. So there is clearly no consensus on the appropriate level of funding for ESAs. It was very interesting to me though, we had no idea what to expect, but that 80% of voters believe that private schools that receive these state funds through the voucher system should be held to the same accountability standards as public schools that receive state funding.

BRODIE: Yes, that’s interesting. You also asked about a topic that has obviously been in the news a lot lately, which is immigration and border security. And you asked about what I think has become more or less the third track of immigration policy according to some policymakers, which is “comprehensive immigration reform.” And again, more than half of the voters you spoke to said they support comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship.

FRANCIS: Yes. What’s interesting about this? In fact, many of our survey questions have been asked by us in different ways in previous surveys, so this is all very consistent with our previous findings. It was actually much more than half, it was 77% of overall support for passing comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. We see this again and again in our survey research, and it includes 61% of Republicans, 79% of independents, unaffiliated, and 92% of Democrats.

You know, this is largely a federal issue. But we have found time and time again that Arizona voters want comprehensive immigration reform. Related to this, an interesting finding is that we found strong support for a bipartisan approach to issues, not just immigration but others as well. So we found that 82% of likely voters want leaders to work together to find bipartisan solutions on many issues.

BRODIE: That’s interesting again because that’s not the message that we keep hearing from a lot of elected officials in terms of being willing or able to cross the aisle and work with people who have different views or have different political parties next to their names .

FRANCIS: Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting. So we found that two-thirds of likely voters prefer candidates who run for office and ultimately elected leaders who are willing to reach across the aisle, negotiate and come up with solutions. We also found that 40% of voters say current candidates for state and legislative office, only 40%, talk about what is important to them.

BRODIE: One of the other issues you looked at was housing and there was strong support, which is perhaps not too surprising. Nearly everyone recognizes the need for more housing and more affordable housing in the state. I wonder if this is one of those areas where the proverbial devil is in the details when it comes to people saying, yes, we need more affordable housing, but perhaps there is less agreement on exactly how to get there.

FRANCIS: Well, that’s such a great question and I should have mentioned that this is the first of two studies we’re conducting. So we’re, we just finished this one in March. Living is a somewhat new field for us. We’ll probably ask some additional questions about housing in our second survey to really dig into it a little more. But I do think it is remarkable that there are very big concerns about rents and house prices. 84% believe home rents are too high and 80% say home prices are too high and 78% say more affordable housing is needed in their community. So I understand that these are complex issues when it comes to solutions. But I do think it’s important to think carefully about what we actually agree on, so that we can at least start to realize that we want the same things, even if we sometimes disagree about how we get there.

BRODIE: Certainly. Okay. That’s Sybil Francis, president and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona. Sybil, thank you very much for the conversation. I can appreciate.

FRANCIS: Don’t mention it.

The transcripts of KJZZ’s The Show are done on deadline. This text may not yet be in its final form. The authoritative record of KJZZ’s programming is the audio recording.

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