ASU's Morrison Institute releases wide-reaching poll on political issues

The polling showed Arizonans' opinions on issues ranging from water to education

ASU's Morrison Institute for Public Policy released a statewide polling report Monday morning detailing residents' opinions on political issues ranging from immigration and housing to water and education.

The report, called the Arizonans Speak poll, was discussed in detail at the State of Our State event at the Phoenix Marriott Hotel following the release of the report Monday and included comments from ASU President Michael Crow. 

The event began with opening remarks and a word from Melissa Kovacs, associate director for research at the Morrison Institute.

"As Arizonans, we love the natural beauty and diversity of the state," said Kovacs. "Rural communities are not always receiving the resources they need to thrive, so with this poll we really wanted to find out what are the biggest concerns for rural Arizonans."

Over 70% of Arizonans from both rural and non-rural communities agreed that water quality, public education, health insurance and public safety were important political issues.

Eighty two percent of respondents favored background checks for guns, 78% felt there should be more vocational training options and 71% believed Arizona agriculture is important to the nation's food supply.

In the 60% range were issues such as affordable housing, school safety, increased pay for teachers and call for government preparation for climate change. The biggest polling percentage differences between demographic groups were political affiliation and age. 

Crow said at the release that ASU aims to serve all Arizonans.

"We need to stop thinking about Arizona as anything other than one place; a unified place with access to what's needed to improve your life and to reach your full potential regardless of where you're living," said Crow.

Republicans voted significantly higher in support of deportation for undocumented immigrants and not feeling safe around them, while Democrats responded strongly in favor of Arizona doing more to prepare for climate change.

The survey was conducted from June 25 to July 9 and questioned approximately 975 Arizonans, including both registered and non-registered voters. The report had a margin of error of plus or minus 3%. 

The survey was conducted online and took about 12 minutes to complete. Rural and Hispanic residents were oversampled to achieve a sample size of over 200 for each. 

Older residents responded with more interest toward housing and water, while younger residents voted toward childcare, immigration, education and jobs.

According to the polls, 35% of residents feel they live in an urban areas while 18% are in rural areas, but the Census Bureau states that 80% of them live in urban areas with just 1% in rural areas. 

Hispanic residents showed the most support for immigration issues, climate change, childcare, healthcare and more.

The biggest difference between rural and non-rural residents was that rural residents agreed they use water efficiently and are worse off financially than before, and they feel less strongly that trade policy with Mexico is an important issue and that immigration should be easier.

For housing, 60% agreed that government funding for affordable housing should be expanded, but only 48% said they were willing to have low to moderate income housing in their neighborhoods. 

In an essay written about the polling, Kovacs noted the data reveals key differences in perceptions of what is considered affordable housing between those who earn less than $50,000 a year and those who earn more.

"Those in the lower income category are less likely to think that there is enough affordable housing in Arizona compared to those in the higher income category," Kovacs wrote. "'Affordability' was not defined for poll respondents, and this concept is likely based on individual perception."

Another finding Kovacs noted in her essay was non-registered residents' perception of housing in comparison to their income.

"Among those not registered to vote, 60% of them have annual incomes less than $50,000," Kovacs essay states. "This suggests that Arizonans who are not registered to vote have different perceptions around affordable housing and government’s role in supporting affordable housing than their voting counterparts."

When it came to confidence in the state government, only 4% of rural residents said they have a great deal of confidence in government, while 43% said a fair amount, 38% said not very much and 15% said none at all.

The findings showed only 17% of rural Arizonans felt that the legislature "has the right priorities." Fifty three percent of Republicans said they have confidence in Arizona government while only 38% of Democrats said the same.

In a guest essay on the polling by Jim Rounds, president of Rounds Consulting Group, Rounds pointed out the importance of polling and what it reveals about the public. 

"We have opportunities, but the work is never truly done and more needs to be done. This conclusion can only be formed by combining polling with data, and with understanding how everything works," Rounds wrote. 

He added that "there is an occasional disconnect between what the public wants, what people are willing to spend and, from my own personal observations, how policymakers interpret public preferences on these topics." 


Reach the reporter at sstewa21@asu.edu and follow @savvystew on Twitter. 

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