Ted Simons: Arizona's new U.S. Attorney says he's going to concentrate on mortgage fraud. Dennis Burke says his office has the go ahead to hire three new attorneys who will focus on mortgage fraud cases. Burke says the Department of Justice in Washington recognizes Arizona has become a hub of white-collar crime. Voters are split on President Obama's job performance but they'd rather not see Sarah Palin as president. Those are a couple of results from the latest Cronkite Eight Poll conducted by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and KAET Eight TV. Poll was conducted the 19th throughout 22nd. 862 registered voters were surveyed. The poll has a margin of error of 3.3%. Dr. Bruce Merrill and Associate Director Tara Blanc join me now. We've got all the questions on the panel. Let's say we get started with the governor's race. There's ancillary aspects of this. Let's start with the first two names.
Bruce Merrill: Basically what we found was that Terry Goddard has a rather significant lead if the election were held today. It's really important to keep in mind there isn't any election today and the real election will be a year from now but we think that the governor is bogged down in the legislature. The governor is in a difficult position that could change between now and the time of the election.
Ted Simons: Tara, the no opinion, the 21% no opinion, what's that say?
Tara Blanc: Basically it says it's too early for a lot of people to it make up their mind. We know by the time we get to the primaries, there'll be other candidates probably at least on the republican side. People likely haven't really started thinking about it. We're interested in it now. A lot of people aren't. That would primarily be because it's so early. Also we do know that as we found in earlier polls, Jan Brewer still has a pretty high percentage of people that aren't familiar with her. There's some of that involved. Terry Goddard, Attorney General, has a highly recognized name recognition.
Ted Simons: Bruce, another poll had Joe Arpaio in the mix here. He seemed to come out very well in that. What do you make out of that?
Bruce Merrill: I make out of that that Joe Arpaio say very popular guy with a lot of people in Maricopa County. How successful would he be as a gubernatorial candidate? He might be stronger than people realize. He'd really have to broaden his appeal outside of just illegal immigration and crime. A lot of really pressing problems and whether or not he'd take the time to educate himself and become proficient in those remain to be seen.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about the mayor's race. If Jan comes back to Arizona to take on John McCain, numbers suggest a close race.
Tara Blanc: It's a very close race. We're a year away. This is purely a hypothetical situation. John McCain is enjoying high approval ratings among those here in Arizona. They still love John McCain. He's our native son. He'd have an edge over Janet Napolitano at this point. Janet Napolitano is associated with Obama's Administration. There's impact in there as well.
Ted Simons: There was another poll out there, this time including J.D. Hayworth in the mix against McCain in a primary. This had Hayworth big over McCain. Bruce, what do you make of that?
Bruce Merrill: I'd like to see the methodology of the poll, quite frankly. I didn't know there were other good polls except for ours out there, Ted?
Ted Simons: I know! I'm trying to figure out what is going on out there.
Bruce Merrill: We don't know much about the methodology of the poll. I think J.D. say media personality. I think it'll be very difficult for a republican to beat John McCain. It'll be difficult for a democrat to defeat him in a general election.
Ted Simons: He's pretty strong no matter who the opponent might be?
Bruce Merrill: I think so.
Ted Simons: Let's go to the president. Job performance with the president and evenly divided. Is this trending in any direction one way or another?
Tara Blanc: There's interesting things about that. We asked a few times in the polls about Obama's approval rating. It's split evenly across the board although it dropped slightly over the last few times we've asked. What's really interesting about this is if you look at his approval rating and when you go to the next thing about asking about troops and sending troops to Afghanistan which is also evenly split, one of the interesting thing about Obama is he seems to be a very polarizing figure. You have people who really don't like what he's doing and people who like what he's doing. It's an interesting even split.
Ted Simons: What about independents? On the previous poll we looked at as far as job performance and then the last one with Afghanistan, sending troops there independents showing up?
Tara Blanc: They're showing up and they're splitting.
Ted Simons: They're splitting, too?
Tara Blanc: They're splitting. Uh-huh.
Ted Simons: What's that say for Obama?
Bruce Merrill: The reason the independents are splitting, Ted, is kind of interesting, because we kind of want to look at independents as a home genus political group kind like Hispanics. Neither one of those groups are homo genus. There are independents that lean conservative and independents that lean liberal. Obama tends to get the more moderate independents.
Tara Blanc: The other thing to consider, too, in the questions about Obama, democrats are much more supportive of Obama than republicans are. You can see those percentages are very different. They sort of cancel each other out. The independents splitting are kind of what is playing into the even 50/50 opinion about Obama.
Ted Simons: Who leans harder? The independents toward Obama or the independents against Obama? Away from Obama?
Bruce Merrill: They're really split.
Ted Simons: Really -- it --
Bruce Merrill: It really is yeah. In fact, about 1/3 of the independents in Arizona say they changed from the Republican Party. About 1/3 said they changed from the Democratic Party. And about 1/3 said they've always been independent. So there's a wide variety or a spectrum within the independent classification.
Ted Simons: Well, speaking of someone who at least fancies herself as independent, certainly from the main stream, Sarah Palin. You asked an interesting question. You asked Arizonians regarding Sarah Palin as president and Tara, that's a lot of folks saying no thanks.
Tara Blanc: There's a lot of folks. I don't think it's that surprising in Arizona to tell you the truth. Think about, again, the fact that she's taken shots at john McCain. And so even among support from republicans was higher for the presidency than democrats. 10% of democrats say they'd like to see her as president, 20% of the independents and 43% of republicans. Her book from what I understand, wasn't particularly kind to John McCain and the campaign. I suspect there's fallout from that.
Ted Simons: Even so this is on though, Bruce, she's got a fanatical following. I was surprised there was that much even with McCain bashing, so to speak, that's a lot of folks saying no.
Bruce Merrill: I was surprised. Nationally about 25% of the people think she's qualified to be president so it's a little lower here but I think the thing, Ted, that's really important is you have to give her credit for a lot of things. A woman with five kids, child with down syndrome, she's elected governor of a major state, she's become kind of a celebrity, an icon for kind of the world as we knew it in the past but that doesn't mean that they can't respect her for that but still not want to see her as president. We have asked specifically, would you like to see her be president sometime in the future? And most people in America don't see her qualified to be president.
Ted Simons: Interesting. Last question regarding the economic situation and it looks at least from the numbers that Arizona voters are optimistic. A little bit of a surprise there?
Tara Blanc: We were very surprised by that result. Better than 50% of the people we talked to thought their economic situation would be better next year than this year. What's really interesting is democrats were twice as likely to say that they thought their situation would be better than republicans.
Ted Simons: Why do you think that is, Bruce?
Bruce Merrill: Well, I think part of it may be that they're betting on the future with Obama. They're democrats. We have a democratic president. He's trying to do something about the economy. It may be kind of a hallow effect for support for Obama but I don't know other than that.
Ted Simons: All right, very interesting numbers, both of you. Thank you, again, for joining us on "Horizon."