Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 30, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Cronkite-Eight Poll


  • The latest Cronkite/Eight Poll reveals where Arizona voters stand on the presidential election, the November ballot proposition that calls for banning same-sex marriage and the federal government bailout of the financial industry. Poll Director Dr. Bruce Merrill and Associate Director Dr. Tara Blanc discuss the results.
Guests:
  • Dr. Bruce Merrill - Director, Cronkite-Eight Poll
  • Tara Blanc - Assistant Director, Cronkite-Eight Poll
Category: Cronkite-Eight Poll

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
>>> Tonight on "Horizon" in the presidential race between John McCain and Barack Obama, we have the new numbers in Arizona in the Cronkite eight poll.

Ted Simons:
>>> Plus, we continue our series on the Ballot Propositions tonight, the one called majority rule. That's coming up, next on "Horizon."

Ted Simons:
>>> Good evening. Welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Arizona registered voters still support john McCain for president, although his lead over Barack Obama has shrunk. More Arizonans than not think McCain's pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate helped him, and two initiatives on the November ballot garnered majority support. Those are some of the results of the latest Cronkite eight poll. It was conducted September 25th through the 28th by eight, Arizona PBS, and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and mass communication at Arizona state university. 976 registered Arizona voters were surveyed, and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1\%. Here to talk about the results are poll director Dr. Bruce Merrill and associate poll director Dr. Tara Blanc. Thank you for joining us on horizon.

Bruce Merrill:
>> Glad to be here.

Ted Simons:
>> First big question is straight up. It's McCain versus Obama and Bruce the numbers are shrinking.

Bruce Merrill:
>> Well, they are in. The last two months it's been pretty consistent 10-11 point lead for senator McCain. It's down to seven with a shrinking undecided vote. There's no question it is close but McCain has really lost a little bit of support nationwide also.

Ted Simons:
>> begs, the question is Arizona in play?

Bruce Merrill:
>> Well, there's a lot that can still happen of the it certainly makes it more interesting. I think that you'll see the Obama people begin to run more ads here in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
>> Tara, do these numbers surprise you at all?

Tara Blanc:
>> Thundershower a real surprise and McCain did keep the lead and consistently kept the lead throughout polling that we have done. He is the Arizona senator and no surprise that he had the lead. A couple of things that were interesting the undecided have dropped and it looks like that some of the support did go to Obama, a little bit of it. The other thing that's interesting in the numbers that we do have, those people who have decided who they will vote for feel very strongly about the candidates they have chosen. There's very little weak support. We asked how strongly they felt about the candidates. 82-83\% people voted for Obama felt very strongly. Same percentage for McCain of the message is the low undecided vote 15\%, there's not a lot of room for play in Arizona. People have made up their numbers.

Ted Simons:
>> Strong support 81\%, not very strong 17\%. Bruce considering home state that makes sense, doesn't it.

Bruce Merrill:
>> It does a little bit this is an unusual year. Tara is right with her analysis of the problem with the polling is you can't tell who o will go to the polls on Election Day. If young people turnout like there's a potential for them to do, that's going to make a difference. We don't know who will go to the polls.

Ted Simons:
>> That's strong. 86\% is convincing. You ask why folks are voting for the particular candidates of the next question is why people are voting for McCain. Sounds like experience is the major factor?

Tara Blanc:
>> It is. It was, yeah, for McCain. People were primarily interested in his experience with number of years in the senator versus the idea that Obama maybe isn't so experienced. Some reasons were they are learning against Obama.

Ted Simons:
>> 16\% said they don't want Obama. How does s that fluctuating?

Tara Blanc:
>> Probably not a lot. The overwhelm reason is McCain's experience. People chosen him are going for someone who they see with experience and ready to take on the job as president.

Bruce Merrill:
>> One of the things I found interesting and discussed this with Tara is the anti-Obama people that are voting for McCain so strong about it, I mean, they were really almost vicious at times. Saying we don't want a Muslim to run this coun, etcetera, so the anti-Obama people that are voting for McCain really feel very, very strongly about it and there's twice as much anti-voting for McCain as Obama.

Ted Simons:
>> I know you asked regarding her impact on voters who actually chose John McCain. The impact among those the campaign was looking to impact the core of voters.
Bruce Merrill:
>> Yes, keep in mind, Ted, the strategy was to reenergize the religious right of the Republican Party. There's no question that her selection did that. The question that was interesting to us is we asked if something that happened to John McCain could she be an effective president? Half the people in Arizona said she could not be.

Ted Simons:
>> That a little disconcerting because what we just saw as far as choosing her most said that wasn't that many factor. Panel 6 you were referring to would Sarah Palin be a good president, again you're looking at pretty much a split. That's somewhat disquieting here.

Tara Blanc:
>> It is. But you have to look at the cross tabs on that question it would pretty much be splint down party lines. My questions--my guess is those who probably didn't--we asked that question of everyone not just for people voting for John McCain. I believe if we looked at the cross tabs those who said they don't think he would be the good president tend to be those who vowed for Obama.

Bruce Merrill:
>> although 25\% of the republicans said they would not have confidence in her as president.

Ted Simons:
>> Wow, that's very much in play and influx. Panel 7 and Barack Obama and question asked why vote for Obama? It sounds likes his message is getting through, isn't it? Change.

Bruce Merrill:
>> it is. At least we have a pretty clear choice in this election, Ted. As Tara said we have a very expressed military hero. A man known for a long time as a maverick. On the other hand most voting against Obama were republicans against and he might give us a chance in the new direction.

Ted Simons:
>> Another question you asked panel 12, who is best able to bring change. Again the message is souped like it's getting through. The question are enough buying into it.

Tara Blanc:
>> that's the question. Although Bruce mentioned, the pro-Obama fashion in this state see Obama as the person who can effect more change. That was evident in the questions we asked. They are looking at different and tired of what they see as failures of the bush administration and that would be Obama seen as one to bring the change about.

Bruce Merrill:
>> I think this should be pointed out this poll was done before the crisis in the last few days. We finished in Sunday.
Ted Simons:
>> Interesting. You asked about the economy and who better to handle the economy best and McCain Palin came out a little bit on top.

Bruce Merrill:
>> That's close but and frankly did. Here in Arizona they see McCain and Palin to have the ability to handle the economy just as well as the Obama people.

Ted Simons:
>> got a feeling the number will change because of the cries?

Tara Blanc:
>> prepares a bit. You are looking at people that are voting for John McCain and like the fact that he has experience and in their minds he will lead them out of mess. I wouldn't guess on that factor we could see a big change.

Ted Simons:
>> As far as the bailout is concerned, I guess this question was asked in time to even consider that, are you surprised at all? It sounds like most folks across the country are very much against this and a lot of politics are following suit. That's not that much of a difference is it?

Bruce Merrill:
>> No, in Arizona it was a third, a third and a third. A third was support, a third opposed and a third different know. If you have until in politics called selective selection. People who like john McCain will not take anything seen as bad news reflecting on him in other words if though like McCain, they will like him regardless.

Ted Simons:
>> A couple of issues making noise of the definition of a marriage between a man and woman. We have a result on that one. It shows support but not a lost support.


>> Which is kind of interesting. The last time that was on the ballot this was highly contested issue. It's I don't want to say under the radar. It's less visible and less thought about right now I suspect because economy and some of the other problems people are not thinking this is the top priority to consider. Another thing is they are asking for a change to the state institution. That tends to make people pause a little bit and say, you know, I really want this law to occur but I'm not sure I want to change the institution.

Ted Simons:
>> that's an interesting point in the sense when you get close to an election and everyone gets more civic minded especially in the a major election you start seeing you don't want to monkey around with things. It makes sense.


Bruce Merrill:
>> it's a factor and issues like abortions and social issues that were burning issues six or eight years ago frankly just are not as strong as they were a few years ago.

Ted Simons:
>> another issue that may be not as strong as it was a few months ago is illegal immigration and the concept of the employers sanction law and some say there's an initiative to gut the employers sanctions law. You can argue that until cows come home. Most support this one as opposed to the tougher employees' sanctions. What's going on.

Tara Blanc:
>> We suspect part of it is people don't understand what the proposition will do. We have found over and over again when we talk about measure doing something about illegal immigration, they are for it. We didn't have some questions of some of our collars who were confused as to what this proposition will do. I have a feeling that's why we're seeing the numbers on this particular proposition. People are looking at one more thing that will help curb illegal immigration in fact it will change the existing law.

Ted Simons:
>> if we take to the poll in Toto here in headline, the thing that jumps out at you.

Bruce Merrill:
>> I think it's clearly a fact that the McCain campaign has lost a little bit of momentum. Keep in find, however, he haven't campaigned here. He hasn't run ads here and that could change if he decides to come back and campaign.

Ted Simons:
>> Tara, just the fact that it's shrinking.

Tara Blanc:
>> I think that's the most important part. It will be see if Arizona comes in play and if McCain will put resources to the campaign and what will happen.

Ted Simons:
>> Fascinating stuff. Thank you for joining us. Thank you.

Bruce Merrill:
>> Good to be here.

Ted Simons:
>>> Here on "horizon," we've been hearing from various people about our economic crisis and the attempted bailout. Few days ago, we caught up with former Arizona senator Dennis Deconcini in flagstaff, where he was attending an Arizona board of regents meeting, of which he is a member. Deconcini, who served on the board of Freddie Mac in the '90s, gave his opinion of the bailout plan being pushed by treasury secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke.
Dennis Deconcini:
>> And you hear Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke say we're going to buy these assets and then we're going to hold them. Then when the market comes back and sell it and put the mope back in it. I don't know. I've been around the federal government a long time. That's not the way it usually works out. I'm not optimistic that the taxpayers will be protected here. Some of the strongest opposition has come from republicans. Howard Shelby and ranking member in the former chairman of the senate he so far said it won't work because it is just--it is a market that we can't manipulate and operate as a government. And, you know, it's very interesting. Today senator Dodd the chairman of the senate banking committee said he thinks this is a John McCain bailout that the white house is doing it for John McCain. I don't want to believe that but it is kind of interesting that it all happens now and John McCain is the same party as the party that gots us in the problem with the bush calling a special meeting with the John McCain kind of guy that put it together. It's certainly suspect.

Ted Simons:
>> You'll hear no very in October as horizon brings you senate interviews with historically prominent Arizonans. We continue our series tonight examining the ballot propositions you will be voting on this November. Tonight proposition 105 majority rule. This one would require a majority of all those registered to vote, not just a majority of those who vote, for any measure that increases taxes or involves additional government spending to be approved. Here now to talk about proposition 105 Steve Voeller, president of the Arizona free enterprise club, who supports the proposition, and John Wright, chair of "the voters of Arizona no on prop 105 committee."

Ted Simons:
>>> Thank you both for joining us on horizon.

Steve Voeller:
>> Thank you.

John Wright:
>> Thank you.

Ted Simons:
>> Steve, why do we need to change the institution for this?

Steve Voeller:
>> Because right now we have a budget crisis. We have a $1.7 billion budget deficit. Only two things can happen to get out of mess. One of them is to raise taxes. The other option is to cut spending. Easier choice is to raise taxes. This initiative would make more difficult for priest interest groups to put a ballot initiative on the ballot to raise taxes.

Ted Simons:
>> Why is it wrong to make it for difficult especially in troubled times to get initiative to not race taxes.
John Wright:
>> It doesn't belong in the institution. It's not about the ballot or taxes. It's a vote. This counts it automatically as no vote making it virtually impossible for the citizens to pass initiative. This would leave it in the hands to put something on the ballot. For the citizens to get a majority of everyone registered to vote even not in Arizona is impossible. It's not about money and vote.

Ted Simons:
>> Why require this?

Steve Voeller:
>> This is a supermajority that nine others states have different types of ways of doing it. This raises the threshold to make it more difficult to raise taxes. Plain and simple. If you don't want it more difficult, you might not want this. The institution has a two-thirds supermajority requirement for the legislature and that worked nicely since it passed in 1992.

John Wright:
>> It raises the threshold to impossible for the citizen toss pass an initiative. This is not just taxes it it's for oversight and regulation. It makes it impossible for citizen toss put something on the ballot and pass it.

Ted Simons:
>> And yet there's the two thirds supermajority in the legislature. If it's more difficult there, why not make it more difficult that things become law?

John Wright:
>> We have in the legislature. Many don't think it's a good idea. It's it is not easy to win an initiative campaign in Arizona. I've worked on campaigns that we have won and love. It should win or lose based on the votes of people cast. If there's something on the ballots and Steve and I disagree and vote different ways, that's democracy. If Steve votes yes and I don't show up, you shouldn't count my vote.

Steve Voeller:
>> Why should the 25, 25 or 30\% of voters pass a tax increase on the population.

John Wright:
>> it's not about taxes but the votes. Who run the campaign get out and vote.

Steve Voeller:
>> Ted this applies to private interest group initiatives going around the legislature and doing this straight to the ballot. There's nothing wrong with making it tougher in the a slow growth pattern.



Ted Simons:
>> The idea of making it more difficult to bypass the legislature. The idea especially when it comes to things that will be very difficult to if you wanted for the state. Why is it that a bad idea?

John Wright:
>> First of all, we already have it on the books that any initiative that requires funding needs to identify the funding source before it can be put on the ballot. We have that in a place. It's an Arizona tradition. It's in the Arizona constitution. The founders of that state put an effort in front of citizens to go to the ballot for direct people's vote if they were not satisfied with what the a legislature is doing. This would take away the constitutionally guaranteed right that the founders thought needed for citizen.

Steve Voeller:
>> that's not totally true. It doesn't take away the right of initiatives.

Ted Simons:
>> it's been mentioned here and concern elsewhere that almost every initiative has some state spending involved. Is it written clearly enough where this is something that applies this is something that doesn't?

Steve Voeller:
>> We think it is clear. The joint legislative buddy economy non-partisan argues it applied to four or five initiatives since 1998 and '34 it would not have applied to some people read it to be more board. I think it applies to tax increases, spending increases or initiative to compel a private person or entity to spend more such as minimum wage increase.

John Wright:
>> What Steve things shouldn't change our constitutions. There's many other scholars and lawyers and others. With this much uncertainty with the constitution at stake and would our right to vote and vote counted at stake this is just too risky and wrong.

Ted Simons:
>> Is there not a concern, though, that perhaps extraordinary measures need to be taken at a time--we talk about the budget a lot on this program--half the time they are throwing up their hands saying there's nothing we can do because there's so much initiatives passed and funded.

John Wright:
>> Let's go to the legislatures and put the right ones in the place. We don't go around the elected leaders to go around and alter to make it more difficult. That's un-American.




Steve Voeller:
>> We do that all the time when we take the spending out of the prevue. They are supposed to appropriate a portion of it. They have formula of automatic increase. This fits nicely with the Arizona constitution.

Ted Simons:
>> I again am going back to the idea, though, that if I go off and vote and make the effort and go through the process and my neighbor is sitting on the couch and not moving and his vote counts and mine, too? Explain why this is good.

Steve Voeller:
>> It's good because this--this only applies to private groups seeking to go around the legislature. It would require them to sell their product better. Get people off the couch to vote. Do it in a high turnout election where the threshold is lower. The cycle of voter turnout of 75-80\% would require a 64\% turnout, approval to pass the tax increase. That's the generally same threshold as the tax increases of the legislature.

John Wright:
>> It's not about private interest groups but Arizona citizens to put things on the ballot the way the elected legislatures do not count as a no vote on the couch and a person recently deceased and still on the polls.

Ted Simons:
>> If spending is off limits and legislature can't touch it but law they have to do what they have to do. Why not wave the bar?

John Wright:
>> The bar is fairly high you have to get a majority of people to vote yes on the initiative. That's the democracy.

Steve Voeller:
>>> Now we have a $1.7 billion deficit and lawmakers with the courage to do something, their hands are tied ton a large share of that budget and solution.

Ted Simons:
>> How do you convince people this is not an attack on direct democracy?

Steve Voeller:
>> It doesn't apply to everything. You could have the same idea, take to the legislature and get them to refer. That requires 51\%. This only applies to a select few different types of initiatives, private, backed by private interests around the legislature going straight to the ballot.




Ted Simons:
>> is this at anytime a good idea? Can you see this perhaps not now in the future if the economy continues to tank and if the legislature can't figure out a budget deficit that's in ridiculous territory? Could this be a good idea down the road?

John Wright:
>> Airing out our budget deficit is our government's job. I've taught a lot of school government, civic and history. I taught them if you don't vote your vote counts as much as one when showed up at the polls.

Ted Simons:
>> Should a minority be able to effect--in other words by my minority should I affect taxes and spending issues by folks in my neighborhood?

John Wright:
>> Identities not a minority bi-but majority. It could count nine voters.

Steve Voeller:
>> The bar is low. You could have 20\% of people show up to vote pass--let's look at the time initiative. The sales tax increase not on the ballot because of other issues. It would have raised taxes $1.2 billion a year going around the legislature because they couldn't sell the product at the legislature. It would have had to met a higher threshold in this day and age, that's a good thing. The sales tax transit budget but not others.

Ted Simons:
>> A question in a different way. Is there a time when so many initiatives passed and funding needed it becomes complete bottleneck and officials at the legislature have nothing to do. How close do we reach that point?

John Wright:
>> if we need initiative reform, let's have it. More productive legislature, let's do that. Don't take the citizens right away to have their yes votes counted by people who vote no. Counting non-voters in a citizen's election is wrong.

Ted Simons:
>> Last question. Bottom line here is there a accepts that people who support this don't know what they are doing.

Steve Voeller:
>> I don't think so at all. That is clear description. What will appear on the ballot is easy to understand. Majority of voters to pass and raise taxes and spending in tax burden.

Ted Simons:
>> Great discussion. Thank you for joining us on horizon.


Steve Voeller:
>> Thank you.

John Wright:
>> Thank you.

Ted Simons:
>>> find out why the board of regents set a cap on university tuition for the next academic year. And we'll talk to an asu professor about efforts to pass a financial bailout. Tomorrow at 7:00 on "horizon."

Ted Simons:
>>> That's it for now. Thank you for joining us. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great evening!

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