Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 23, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Cronkite-Eight Poll


  • How do Arizonans feel about Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration posse, President Bush’s immigration plan and NSA spying? Those are some of the issues we surveyed Arizona voters on in the latest Cronkite-Eight Poll. Poll director Bruce Merrill and assistant director Tara Blanc will discuss the results. Read the complete Cronkite-Eight Poll results.
Guests:
  • Bruce Merrill - Director, Cronkite-Eight Poll
Category: Cronkite-Eight Poll

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon, in our latest opinion poll we get views on the president's immigration plan, the minutemen and Sheriff Arpaio's posse getting involved in the battle over illegal immigration. Plus, Christine Todd Whitman, the former head of the EPA and a former New Jersey governor, talks with us about "Smart Growth." Those stories, next on Horizon

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of 8, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening. I'm Michael Grant. Welcome to Horizon. First up, in the news the Arizona Supreme Court will consider a legal challenge by state GOP lawmakers to a line-item veto issued by Governor Janet Napolitano in January. The governor vetoed a provision of a state employee pay raise bill, saying it amounted to an appropriation because it would have produced extra costs related to certain workers vacation benefits. The lawsuit argues Napolitano's veto went beyond the governor's constitutional authority to reject appropriations in spending bills. President Bush's immigration plan is a hit with Arizona voters, who also like Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigration posse and the minuteman's border fence. Those are the results of the latest Cronkite-Eight poll, conducted by KAET television and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. That poll was conducted may 18th through May 21st. 351 people were interviewed, and it has a margin of error of 5.2\%. Here are the results.

Mike Sauceda:
The poll shows that 70\% support President Bush's call for putting National Guard troops on border in support roles. 24\% disagree. The poll reveals that 86\% support Bush's call for adding 6000 border patrol agents, 11\% are against that. 59\% agree with Bush's plan to create a temporary worker program, 26\% disagree with that idea. 85\% like the president's idea to hold employers accountable for the legal status of the worker's they hire, 11\% do not agree with that plan. Finally, regarding Bush's plan 79\% say they agree with refusing automatic citizenship for illegal aliens, 14\% disagree with the president. We also asked Arizona voters about Sheriff Joe Arpaio's posse that is patrolling Maricopa County desert for illegal immigrants. 59\% support the sheriff's illegal alien posse, 22\% oppose it. The minuteman civil defense core, a civilian border watch group, has plans to build a fence on private property along the border. 54\% of those we surveyed support the minutemen's plan, 32\% oppose it. Finally, we asked whether Arizonans support the national security agency gathering phone records of millions of Americans to analyze and search for terrorists. 39\% support the action, 41\% oppose it.

Michael Grant:
Here now to discuss the results of our latest poll is poll director Bruce Merrill, and assistant poll director Tara Blanc. Hello to you all.

Tara Blanc:
Good evening.

Michael Grant:
Tara, the thing I like most about the poll is that there's always food next-door.

Tara Blanc:
We didn't see you. Where were you?

Michael Grant: Well, I sneak in there and I grab the food and then I'm right out. Interesting set of questions. We asked about the five major component parts of the president's immigration plan, which was on TV a week ago I guess, Monday. But overall, it obviously indicated general support for the what the president had said.

Bruce Merrill:
I think that's true, Michael. I'm not sure it would have made a difference whether the president said it or anybody else had said it. The five components we looked at simply indicate that people in Arizona want a much stronger position in terms of shutting down illegal immigration going across the border. By near unanimous margins, people in Arizona want to send more border patrol agents down there; they want the National Guard there. Almost everything we looked at particularly having employers take more responsibility for hiring legal people. Everything we looked at, it was very, very strong support. So it's the issues, I think, more than the personality.

Michael Grant:
The two strongest aspects or I should say the two most strongly supported aspects of what the president said were the 6,000 new agents on the border and employer sanctions. On that latter issue, I seem to recall both were in the mid-'80s. On that latter one, I seem to recall that the employer sanction system with a couple of other polls we have done previously, the public supporting increased employer sanctions.

Tara Blanc:
Yes. We have asked the questions two or three times. Each time a majority of people we talked to have supported creating sanctions for employers who hire illegal immigrants. I suspect that what happens is people are looking at are what avenues illegal immigrants have, what things draw them into this country. What I have heard over and over again from a lot of the people we talk to is that until that avenue is closed and that incident goes away that the problem will not be solved or even reduced.

Michael Grant:
Bruce, a 15, 16-point drop though, between the 86\% support for 6,000 new agents and the 70\% support for National Guard. Both still strong indicators but, you know, is the 16\% drop perhaps indicate-- there's always a little discomfort with the use of the National Guard, certainly the use of the military in these kinds of situations.

Bruce Merrill:
Plus there's been a lot of confusion about what it is the National Guard people do. And I think there's been a lot of misconceptions. The National Guard are not going to be arresting anybody or stopping anybody. They are in support roles on the border. I think there's enough media publicity on that it may free up agents to do more intercepts but they're there in a support suspicious position.

Michael Grant: Now, Tara, we often will run what I call "sub data" to see if there are significant partisan breaks, education breaks, whatever the case may be. These questions all producing pretty much across the board kind of results.

Tara Blanc:
For the most part, yes. Surprisingly the questions ant Bush cut across party lines. We saw difference when we talk about Joe Arpaio and his parties and cell phone use there were party differences. For the most part illegal immigration it cuts across all the party lines, the political etiologies, people seemed to be really concerned across the board about doing something to solve the problem.

Michael Grant:
Everybody is trying to avoid what is now being called in the nation's capitol the "A" word or the "amnesty" word. I think the question we put on the president's proposal is the not in support or rejected automatic citizenship for illegal immigrants. 79-14 supporting that. If we had phrased that question, [Laughter] the president supported amnesty, would we have had gotten a different result?

Bruce Merrill:
Oh, I think so.

Tara Blanc:
It's how you word it.

Bruce Merrill:
That's right. I think the key thing in the last poll really looked at this. Sometimes we get down in the people in the democratic system, we're all very busy and we look at them that the public is kind of stupid. What we did find last time is people in Arizona make the distinction between issue of border security and tightening up the border and stopping illegal immigration and what to do about the people that are here legally and overwhelming support to be tougher on stopping immigration. But when it comes to what did we do about the people already here? They tend to be moderate on that and really don't want to send them back but want them to earn their statues in the country. So the point is: there are two real different issues. One is border security. The other is what to do about the people who are here illegally.

Michael Grant:
And, interestingly enough, on the temporary or guest worker program, again a majority supporting that, but that the lowest positive results of the five different areas we polled on. Indicating I guess maybe some uncertainty about yes I'm in favor of that but I've maybe some questions.

Bruce Merrill:
There have been different proposals as to whole a guest worker program would look like and how it would be administered and that's why you get differences.

Tara Blanc:
One of things I heard from the callers when get questions from the people that we call, there seems to be things in people's minds that tie a guest worker program to amnesty. I think that impacts also, how people respond to that question because people see the two tied together.

Michael Grant:
Given this result, Tara, would you expect-- obviously the president's approval ratings have dropped as low as 29\%. Would you expect at least a slight boost, perhaps?

Tara Blanc:
Possibly, possibly. I suspect that Bush's problems go far deeper and are more far reaching than the illegal immigration issue. So it might in this state give him a little boost but I would say not a lot.

Michael Grant:
66\% or so of the people supporting sheriff Arpaio posse effort out in Maricopa County on the looking out for illegal immigrants. But I understand the sheriff called you and he wasn't real happy. [Laughter]

Bruce Merrill:
Well, that's right. I think if you look at those with an opinion it's about three-quarters of people are supporting what the sheriff's office is doing. But I think what they told me is they are getting a tremendous number of calls positive. I think Joe would like to see the number 95 or 100\%. We didn't quite accommodate that.

Michael Grant:
Now just out of curiosity the sheriff's office answered offer fourth call is that random enough?

Bruce Merrill:
No, I convinced them that wouldn't be random.

Michael Grant:
Now this was one you indicated there was partisan break on republicans far more likely to support Sheriff Joe's efforts out in the county.

Tara Blanc:
Yes. Republicans were far more likely to support his efforts. The one interesting thing about this though, we did look at the numbers-- looked at the breakdown by county, and 87\% of the people in Maricopa County, when we asked them if they had an opinion on this subject, said they did. 88\% of the people on the outline counties had an opinion but only 55\% of the people in Pima County had an opinion. So it was interesting look at piles and numbers and recognition in this state. But despite that difference, we also found that the support for what he's doing is pretty much-- there's no significant difference by county. In other words, the percent of people supporting him is about the same in Pima County as it is in Maricopa County and so on.

Michael Grant:
Okay. We established people want an emphasis on border security and yet we ask about the minutemen building a fence. Again a majority of respondents support that but one of the lower numbers on poll.

Bruce Merrill:
Yeah, but remember this is asking them about building a fence on privately owned land, which is what they are proposing. It's hard for me to totally conceptualize that. Do you have a hundred yards of private piece of property and then a quarter mile of nothing because it's not private property? I think that maybe that's a harder concept to sell in the mass public in terms of what that means in whether it would be successful or not.

Tara Blanc:
What we were hearing when we were asking the question people are were people not were familiar as we thought they were with what was happening in the proposal. The response was if they are not using federal money or government money, then okay. If they are, then no, they don't want them to do it.

Michael Grant:
The national security agencies, its access to the phone records and how people felt about that. Dead heat results recently. Are you a little surprised by that?

Tara Blanc:
A little bit. I thought a state that was as conservative as Arizona they might be more in favor, which is what they're finding on a national level. It was on the money half-and-half. That was a surprising.

Michael Grant:
Bruce, let's try to take this to the campaign. Obviously, immigration is playing heavily in various campaigns in the states, United States Senate, couple of congressional races, governor's races, that kind of thing. How does somebody successfully manage the immigration campaign for this political cycle? Or state it other way, how do they blow it?

Bruce Merrill:
Well, I think it's a good question, Michael. I think what's partially been happening in the state for a while anyway is both the governor and the conservative legislature kind of joking for position and trying to make political advantage out of it. I think it's hard to do. Just like Tara said, it cuts across party lines. It's not a party issue. It's going to be more who is stronger on this issue.

Michael Grant:
Articulates it better.

Bruce Merrill:
That's right. Who presents their position and who has the perceived stronger position? I must say probably with the president coming out with his program and the national media saying that he had basically taken governor Napolitano's program and made it his own, I don't see how that does anything but help the governor in Arizona.

Michael Grant:
Thank you for joining us and our thanks to you as well. Always thanks to the volunteers. Christine Todd Whitman served as President Bush's EPA administrator from January 2001 to June 2003. Before that, she was the first woman to be elected governor of New Jersey. She had that job for seven years. I spoke with Whitman when she was in Arizona recently. She was here as co-chair of the national smart growth council, an initiative of smart growth America, participating in valley forward's livability summit.

Michael Grant:
Governor Whitman, thanks for joining us.

Christine Todd Whitman:
Pleasure.

Michael Grant: Tell us what the national smart growth council is?

Christine Todd Whitman:
It was started by the governor of Maryland when I was a governor of New Jersey and democrat. He did a lot with smart growth and he started one of things to reach out to people who didn't necessarily think in terms of sustainable development or smart growth to bring together people development, majors others who are involved and understand and impacted by what we talk about when we talk about smart growth and try to get message out to others. One things we do is there's a website very good one that has a lot of examples from towns and cities across the country that have put in place some smart growth principles to show how they worked toward them what it meant for economic growth and stimulate businesses in downtowns and keep them from decaying and falling apart and encourage re-growth along infrastructure and industry on water. There are lessons there. You don't to reinvent the wheel every time you want to talk about the issues.

Michael Grant:
We often in Arizona think we've got dumb growth. I'm not completely convinced that we do. I'm sure there's room for improvement. Give me some practical real-world examples of smart growth in contrast to dumb growth.

Christine Todd Whitman:
Sure. One of things that is happening here now with the initiative valley ford of part of it. To get a light-rail system in. That's smart. It helps revitalize those areas through which had passes. It increases the value of the properties and businesses do better. It's tough to get through while the development but afterwards it's a boom to those located along it. You see towns who are focused on brown fields. It's a term for something that might have been a mom and pop dry cleaners or corner gas station gone out of business. Nobody wants to clean it up because they're afraid of the potential for liability for the cleanup what pollution is there. Legislation passed at federal level that gives and provides protection so it's not a superfund site. It's to make it easier for people to cleanup depending on the usage, depending on what you are going to use it for. You can get loans and innocent third parties in to revise the areas. They are all over not just in downtowns. They are in suburban and rural areas and eyesores.

Michael Grant:
One of things we are seeing rebirth here in phoenix is infill and the largest example we call them high-rises. By New Jersey, they are mid-rises.

Christine Todd Whitman:
Mini rises.

Michael Grant:
12, 13, 14 stories converting apartment complexes into condominium complexes as the baby bomber generation gets older. That's a good lifestyle after all is that part of it?

Christine Todd Whitman:
That's part of it. It's interesting there was a study done which smart growth and national association of realtors says four out of five people who intend to buy a home in the next five or six years, one of the most important things to them is walkability. They want to be able to walk to downtown and grocery store and not get in the car and spend hours sitting in highway or freeway just to do errands. They want to be able to have the sense of community that comes to actually nothing your neighbors and going into local store and having somebody recognize you. That is value people are missing when we go to mega malls and strip malls and everybody is spread out and we're a nation of large part of that is because we don't walk or bike anywhere anymore.

Michael Grant:
For darn sure. One of problems is affordability. Often times one of cheapest ways to grow, that doesn't necessarily mean--meant in a negative way. It's meant from the standpoint I'm a first-time homebuyer and I got to get out away a little bit simply to afford it. Unfortunately buying closer in off times means paying more. Can we solve that?

Christine Todd Whitman:
That's where government often steps in not necessarily--although a lot of cities and towns have incentives for first-time homebuyers in the cities. You can provide incentives of people where you want them to live. It's a question of economics and what it means to you to have people living in the downtown and sprawling out. The stress that puts on infrastructure and ultimately on taxes. When you have a sprawl of extended water lines and power lines and ultimately new schools and new hospitals.

Michael Grant:
Larger and wider interstate freeways.

Christine Todd Whitman:
If today's example of sitting in traffic is any indication of what it's like on a normal basis here, you have some real problems. Mobile sources are one of primary sources of air pollution. When cars are sitting in traffic not only to mention the price of gasoline is out of sights you're spending a lot of money sitting there and polluting the atmosphere which a enormous problem. Here you have air quality problems. People don't think about it.

Michael Grant:
Let me jump to our EPA background. Obviously, the gas prices are going through the roof. Some increment of that is shift to go ethanol and from MTBE?

Christine Todd Whitman:
Uh-huh.

Michael Grant:
Is there a good move?

Christine Todd Whitman:
Getting away from MTBE is a good move. How much do you the need the oxygenated gasoline. These will be parts of much more clean burning fuel and encouraged in the new energy act and people are focused on trying to develop cars accepting different forms of gasoline and hybrid cars, which allow you to run on gasoline and electric at the same time. Those get very good gas mileage. A lot of exciting things happen. The problem with MTBE it gets in the water supplies and contaminating water supplies. That's a big issue.

Michael Grant:
In Arizona we have backed away from MTBEe about a year ago. In many areas of the country it's causing difficulties as refineries and other infrastructures shifts back. That was a detour.

Christine Todd Whitman:
You're allowed to detour.

Michael Grant:
Back to livability and smart growth. Some of the problems is how do you avoid the central planning phenomenon? How do you get the ideas across without necessarily dictating the ideas instead convincing people that they are smart ideas?

Christine Todd Whitman:
That's the heart of a lot of it. You cannot have the talk-down approach. You have to start this at the grass roots level. You need to engage the people living in the community. That's why association like Valley Forward work because they include the business, private and public sector, people impacted by it. You need to them understand why it benefits them. I have my home.

Michael Grant:
Traffic that helps.

Christine Todd Whitman:
And droughts do it too. They say hey maybe I won't always have the water supply I want or expect and figure out why it's happening. That's why when government gets involved you start at the local level and build your way up. This is incentive and planning and other issue is when you don't have it, it happens in little pockets, you have to reach out beyond geo political borders. Mother Nature doesn't recognize them. What happens in one county affects you. When they put in a housing development those people use your roads. There has to be that ability to communicate and look at a plan as an overall one and needs to start at the grass roots.

Michael Grant:
Welcome to Arizona and we appreciate your time.

Christine Todd Whitman:
It was a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.

Producer:
Common mistakes non-Hispanics make about them. Join us Wednesday on 7:00 on Horizon.

Michael Grant:
And directly following horizon tonight stay tuned for "Arizona Stories". Among tonight's stories, the restoration of the stained glass windows of Saint Mary's Basilica in downtown Phoenix. Arizona stories, people, places and history that makes Arizona unique, airs every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. thanks for being here this evening. I'm Michael Grant. Have a good one. Good night.

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