Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 2, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

State Primary Election


  • Arizona State University Professor Emeritus Bruce Merrill reviews the upcoming primary election for Governor, Attorney General and others.
Guests:
  • Bruce Merrill - Arizona State University Professor Emeritus
Category: Vote 2010

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on "Horizon" -- How Arizona's primary election is shaping up. The key races and the candidates who might surprise us. Plus, we'll take you inside two high-profile properties that stand as monuments to the valley's real estate boom and bust. That's coming up next, on "Horizon."

"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.

The deadline for candidates to submit their nomination petitions for the August 24th primary election was a week ago. That means we now have a clearer picture of who will be on the ballot but that picture may continue to change. In fact, just yesterday, John Munger dropped out of the Republican primary race for governor. Here to talk about how that and some other key contests are shaping up is ASU professor emeritus of political science, Dr. Bruce Merrill. Bruce, always a pleasure.

Bruce Merrill:
Always a pleasure, Ted.

Ted Simons:
Let's start with the primary election and turnout. What are you seeing there?

Bruce Merrill:
Well, traditionally, it's lower than in the general election. That's nationwide, as well as Arizona. Probably 35% to 40%. Although the effect of 1070 may pump it up, particularly with the Hispanic community.

Ted Simons:
I was going to ask, 1070, pump in up inwhich direction? Do you get more of a tea party conservative, a Hispanic crowd and those against the law? What are you seeing?

Bruce Merrill:
Well, the tea party conservatives. The ideologues in both parties, they always go to the polls anyway, that's why there's a disproportionate impact on primaries in Arizona. The question that I ask every day, almost, is this finally when the Hispanics are going to vote? Is this an issue they feel strongly enough that they can get Hispanics to the polls? I doubt it. I mean, I think it's important for Hispanics to vote. 15, 20 years, they're going to be a majority in our state. But frankly, it's very difficult to get Hispanics to the polls. They might pick up a little bit, but I'm not convinced it will be enough to influence the outcome of the election.

Ted Simons:
Interesting. It's historically difficult to get younger folks to the polls as well. The Obama election changed that to a certain degree. What are you seeing this time around?

Bruce Merrill:
Your point's a good one. What we know from the presidential election, Obama brought out young people in much higher proportions and minorities and kept white older voters from going to the poll. You take Obama out the picture, the Democrats are going to have a difficult time. How will you get the young people to the polls, or the minorities when Obama isn't on the ticket? And so I think there's no question, that the Democrats are not going to do as well as they have two years ago.

Ted Simons:
And yet you have a democratic party in the house with no control of the house, senate, or the governor’s office right now wouldn't there be anger there or something there to push that crowd?

Bruce Merrill:
A little bit, Ted, but keep in mind that the main cause of voting, why people go to the polls is education. And the reason Hispanic vote is so low is that as a group, they have very low educational levels. If you took a group of college-educated Hispanics, they're going to vote in the same percentage as the group of college-educated ANGLOs, but as a group, their education level is lower. So they go to the polls much less as a group.

Ted Simons:
Lets go to the Republican side, the tea party -- before we get there. The tea party movement is this not just conservative Republicans a little more mobilized but the same bunch of folks?

Bruce Merrill:
I think in general the research shows that's the case. Because of the media conference of Obama and because of 1070 in Arizona, it's not that they're going to go out and higher percentages, because most of them vote anyway. But what this does do it gives more energy to that movement and so I don't think there's much question they're going to the polls on election day and that could effect affect some of the races, like McCain or Hayworth, for instance, or even the governor's race.

Ted Simons:
So basically the tea party movement will impact the GOP primary more so than conservatives would otherwise?

Bruce Merrill:
A little bit, but not a lot. Because their impact is -- the tea party is pretty much the same very conservative animated Republicans.

Ted Simons:
What about the old style Republicans; is that a dying breed in?

Bruce Merrill:
It's split in Arizona. For the past couple of years you have a growing split between the right wing conservatives and the so-called Goldwater conservatives. The irony is that the Goldwater conservatives are the moderate Republicans and remember in Arizona, and this is true of the nation also, the tremendous increase in independence. Why that's important, as people leave their parties, like myself, I was a Republican all my life, two years ago, I reregistered as an independent. But now the research shows maybe I didn't do the right thing and the reason is this. What we know is that many of the people leaving both parties are the moderates and so as they leave the Republican-democratic party, you end up with two parties that are much more ideologically split in more pure ideologues. That's one of the reasons we have a split in the legislature and in my opinion, a legislature that's much more conservative than the electorate in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
And that likely will not change this cycle.


Bruce Merrill:
I think 1070 is going to help people, like Russell Pearce and the people that want to really reinforce this more conservative view, I think it's going to help them.

Ted Simons:
The sales tax vote, does that give a limit as to what could happen in the primaries specifically?

Bruce Merrill:
I think it could. It shows the public isn't as stupid as some consultants think they are. I mean, it's a pretty conservative state. But when people have the information to know this money was needed for education and security, they overwhelmingly supported it. So I think that what's happened with the proposition 100 vote, is it probably helped Jan Brewer really propelled her into the lead in that race. There was a lot of concern that the true conservatives wouldn't vote for her because she supported a tax increase. But her support for 1070, the media memory is very short she's involved in that, and stood up for Arizona, I think that this is really brought back many of the conservative votes.

Ted Simons:
What other races should we look at and other candidates maybe we should watch as an indication of what could happen in the general. Who do we watch in the primary?

Bruce Merrill:
Certainly, the race between Andrew Thomas and Horne is an interesting one. Because when you look at Thomas, he's had the threats of being sued by the government, etc. and yet because of 1070s, my suspicion is he's going to be the favorite. So many people are angry over illegal immigration and he has really made that his single focus. I think it's going to be hard for Horne to overcome that.

Ted Simons:
You mentioned the McCain-Hayworth race. Is that something that could tip on this one issue alone?

Bruce Merrill:
I don't think so. I -- it's conceivable it could be closer. Would it be impossible for J.D. to win? No, but when you look at the difference in the money spent and the prestige of senator McCain having run for president. I still think he'll win in that primary.

Ted Simons:
Last question regarding the primary, the up-coming election, will we differ much in the rest of the country?

Bruce Merrill:
No. Not really. Arizona, the people that have really come into Arizona over the last 15-20 years have come from all over the country, we're kind of a microcosm of the country. Every time I do a poll and I put on a question that's a national poll, it comes out within a couple of percentage points.

Ted Simons:
Thanks for the analysis.

Bruce Merrill:
Good to be here, Ted.

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