Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

April 30, 2012


Host: Ted Simons

Merrill/Morrison Poll


  • Dr. Bruce Merrill, senior fellow at ASU’s Morrison Institute and director of the Merrill/Morrison Institute Poll, shares the latest results of his polling about the Presidential race and Arizona politics.
Guests:
  • Dr. Bruce Merrill - Senior Fellow, ASU Morrison Institute
Category: Elections   |   Keywords: merrill, morrison, poll, senior, fellow, ASU, institute, president, race, politics, elections, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: A PRESIDENTIAL RACE BETWEEN PRESIDENT OBAMA AND FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY WOULD BE A TOSS-UP IN ARIZONA. THAT'S ACCORDING TO THE LATEST MERRILL/MORRISON INSTITUTE POLL OUT OF ASU. THE TELEPHONE POLL OF 488 REGISTERED VOTERS WAS CONDUCTED IN MID-APRIL AND HAS A MARGIN OF ERROR OF PLUS OR MINUS 4.4%. I RECENTLY SPOKE WITH THE POLL'S DIRECTOR, DR. BRUCE MERRILL, ABOUT THE SURVEY. BRUCE, THANKS FOR JOINING US TONIGHT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON."

Dr. Merrill: GOOD TO BE WITH YOU, TED.

Ted Simons: LET'S START WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. WHAT DID YOU ASK? WHAT DID YOU FIND?

Dr. Merrill: WELL, WE BASICALLY ASKED PEOPLE IF THE ELECTION WERE HELD TODAY, WHO WOULD YOU PROBABLY VOTE FOR? AND IT WAS ALMOST DEAD EVEN. 42% ROMNEY, 40% OBAMA, WITH 18% UNDECIDED. I THINK THERE ARE TWO THINGS THAT ARE A LITTLE SURPRISING ABOUT THAT. I AM SURPRISED IT'S AS CLOSE AS IT IS. AND I AM SURPRISED THAT ALMOST ONE IN FIVE PEOPLE ARE STILL UNDECIDED ON THIS RACE. WHICH MEANS THAT THERE'S A LOT OF LEEWAY HERE FOR MOVEMENT TO OCCUR AS THE CAMPAIGNS BEGIN.

Ted Simons: WHEN YOU HEAR UNDECIDED, IS THERE A WAY TO SEE THEY ARE UNDECIDED BUT BENDING IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER?

Dr. Merrill: THERE IS. WE COULD HAVE ASKED THEM THAT BUT WE DIDN'T. AND I ALSO WISH WE WOULD HAVE ASKED THEM ABOUT HOW ENTHUSIASTIC THEY WERE ABOUT THE VOTE BUT WE WERE SHORT ON TIME.

Ted Simons: DOES IT MEAN THAT ARIZONA IS AT PLAY?

Dr. Merrill: POSSIBLY. WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW, TED, IF THE ELECTION WERE HELD TODAY IN MY OPINION ROMNEY WOULD WIN IN A NARROW ELECTION. BUT NOVEMBER IS STILL SIX MONTHS AWAY. YOU HAVE GOT THE 1070 CONTROVERSY. YOU KNOW, YOU HOPE THINGS ARE DONE FOR THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE COUNTRY, BUT IF 1070 IS UPHELD THAT'S CERTAINLY GOING TO MOTIVATE HISPANICS TO BE MORE ACTIVE IN THE ELECTORAL PROCESS IN THIS ELECTION. YOU ALSO HAVE CARMONA BUILDING PERHAPS SOME ENTHUSIASM AMONG HISPANICS IN THE CONTEST FOR THE SENATE. SO A LOT OF THINGS COULD HAPPEN BETWEEN NOW AND THEN. I THINK THERE'S A TENDENCY TO UNDERESTIMATE OBAMA. HE'S GOT A LOT OF MONEY TO SPEND IN ARIZONA, AND HE'S BEEN WORKING AT THE GRASS ROOTS, USING SOCIAL MEDIA, FOR A YEAR. SO HE'S GOING TO BE PRETTY WELL ORGANIZED, AND HE'S PRETTY SMART AT GETTING OUT THE VOTE. COULD BE VERY CLOSE ELECTION.

Ted Simons: THOSE DOWN TICKET ITEMS, CARMONA RACE PRESUMABLY AGAINST FLAKE, MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Dr. Merrill: THEY CERTAINLY CAN. AS YOU KNOW, THE HISTORY IN ARIZONA HAS BEEN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY GOES OUT, SPENDS A LOT OF MONEY AND TIME REGISTERING HISPANICS, THEY DON'T VOTE IN NOVEMBER. THE QUESTION IS, WILL THERE BE AN INCREASE IN THE HISPANIC VOTE THIS TIME? I THINK THERE WILL BE. THE ONLY QUESTION IS, WILL IT BE A BIG INCREASE OR JUST A LITTLE BIT?

Ted Simons: YOU ALSO ASK QUESTIONS REGARDING LAWS DEALING WITH GUNS AND PUBLIC BUILDINGS, ABORTION, CONTRACEPTION, SOME OF THE MORE CONTROVERSIAL LAWS COMING OFF THE LEGISLATURE THIS SESSION. WHAT DID YOU FIND?

Dr. Merrill: BASICALLY WHAT WE FOUND WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE BIRTHER BILL WHERE 60% OF THE PEOPLE IN ARIZONA SAY, HEY, IF SOMEBODY IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT THEY OUGHT TO COME TO ARIZONA AND SAY THAT THEY'RE UNITED STATES CITIZENS, 60% OF THE PEOPLE FEEL THAT WAY. ON ALL OF THE OTHER MAJOR BILLS THAT ARE BEING CONSIDERED THAT ARE CONTROVERSIAL, LIKE CARRYING GUNS ON TO PUBLIC BUILDINGS, A MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE ARE OPPOSED TO WHAT THE LEGISLATURE IS DOING. BUT THE REAL ISSUE TO ME ISN'T THAT. WE CAN DEMONSTRATE THAT THERE'S A DISCONNECT BETWEEN WHAT THE LEGISLATURE IS PASSING OR WANTS TO PASS, AND THE AVERAGE VOTER OUT THERE. BUT IF THESE PEOPLE ARE HEAVILY CONSERVATIVE, IN THE LEGISLATURE, AND IF EVERYBODY HAD A CHANCE TO VOTE IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION PARTICULARLY, THEN, PERHAPS THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO VOTE THEIR CONSCIENCE RATHER THAN WHAT THE PEOPLE IN ARIZONA WANT.

Ted Simons: WE KEEP TALKING ABOUT THIS APPARENT DISCONNECT. I KNOW YOU ASKED A QUESTION REGARDING EXTENDING THE STATE'S SALES CONNECT. WHAT DID YOU FIND THERE?

Dr. Merrill: WHAT WE FOUND WAS OVERWHELMINGLY PEOPLE WANT TO EXTEND THE SALES TAX AND THEY WANT TO USE MOST OF IT FOR EDUCATION. I HAVE DONE SEVERAL POLLS IN THE LAST MONTH ON THIS. ABOUT 60 TO 65% OF THE PEOPLE SAY, LET'S GO AHEAD AND EXTEND THAT. EDUCATION IS A TOP PRIORITY WITH PEOPLE IN ARIZONA. THEY TOLD US THAT EDUCATION IS WAY UNDERFUNDED, AND THEY WANT TO USE THIS MONEY FOR EDUCATION.

Ted Simons: SO BACK TO THE DISCONNECT, BECAUSE WHEN IT COMES TO THE SALES TAX, I WILL ASK LAWMAKERS ON THIS PROGRAM, YOU GUYS WERE DEAD SET AGAINST THIS, THE PUBLIC WAS OVERWHELMINGLY IN SUPPORT OF THIS, WHAT'S GOING ON HERE? THEY WERE SOLD A BILL OF GOODS, ALL THESE SORTS OF THINGS. BUT THERE DOES SEEM TO BE A CHASM BETWEEN PEOPLE WHO PUT THESE PEOPLE IN OFFICE, I MEAN, THEY DIDN'T JUST WALK DOWN THERE AND SIGN A PIECE OF PAPER AND TAKE A SEAT. THEY WERE VOTED IN. WHAT'S GOING ON?

Dr. Merrill: WHAT'S GOING ON IS PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE IS ABOUT 70 TO 75% OF ALL ELECTIONS ARE DETERMINED IN THE PRIMARIES, WHERE YOU HAVE VERY LOW TURNOUTS. SO WHEN YOU HAVE A 20, 25, 30% TURNOUT IN A PRIMARY ELECTION, THERE'S A DISPROPORTIONATE NUMBER OF IDEALOGUES OF BOTH THE RIGHT AND THE LEFT BUT IN ARIZONA PRIMARILY OF THE RIGHT, THAT GO TO THE POLLS AND THEY ELECT PEOPLE THEY ARE COMFORTABLE WITH. OTHER CONSERVATIVES. SO IN OUR LAST LEGISLATIVE ELECTION, ONLY THREE OR FOUR DISTRICTS WERE REALLY COMPETITIVE AFTER THE PRIMARY. SO WHAT YOU HAVE IS A LEGISLATURE THAT WAS PRIMARILY ELECTED IN THE PRIMARY, AND THAT'S WHY THERE IS A GROUP OUT THERE, AS YOU KNOW, THAT WANTS TO TRY TO CHANGE THE WAY WE NOMINATE PEOPLE, AND CONDUCT ELECTIONS IN ARIZONA.

Ted Simons: THAT TOP TWO PRIMARY SYSTEM. WHAT DO YOU THINK, THE TOP TWO VOTES GET, BASICALLY, UNLESS YOU GET 50% AND THEN YOU ARE IN BUT THE TOP TWO DO A RUNOFF.

Dr. Merrill: I THINK IT'S SOMETHING WE HAVE GOT TO TRY. AND THE PROBLEM WITH IT POTENTIALLY, OF COURSE, IS THAT IF THE TOP TWO ARE RIGHT WINGERS IN A DISTRICT YOU ARE STILL GOING TO GET A RIGHT-WING LEGISLATOR. BUT I THINK ALONG WITH CHANGING TO THIS SYSTEM AND ALONG WITH THE REDISTRICTING, WHERE WE NOW HAVE OR REAPPORTIONMENT, WHERE WE HAVE MORE COMPETITIVE DISTRICTS, I THINK THERE IS A CHANCE BETWEEN THE TWO BILLS, OR THE TWO APPROACHES, TO REALLY END UP WITH MORE SEATS THAT ARE COMPETITIVE AND MAYBE A MORE BALANCED LEGISLATURE.

Ted Simons: LAST QUESTION. FROM EVERYTHING THAT YOU ASK IN THIS LATEST POLL, TO THE RESULTS THAT YOU FOUND, THE NOT TOO DISTANT PAST WE KEPT HERRING ARIZONA WAS A PURPLE STATE. SURROUNDING STATES, WELL AND NEW MEXICO, SOMEWHAT SIMILAR. ARE YOU SEEING A SHIFT? WHAT ARE YOU SEEING OUT THERE?

Dr. Merrill: WELL, WHAT ARIZONA HAS A LITTLE BEEN A FAIRLY MODERATE ELECTORATE. BUT BECAUSE THERE'S SO MUCH IN-MIGRATION AND OUTMIGRATION WE DON'T HAVE HIGH TURNOUT IN ARIZONA. THERE'S NO QUESTION IN MY MIND THAT SLOWLY WE HAVE BECOME MORE AND MORE MODERATE AND A LITTLE BIT MORE DEMOCRATIC, AS IS THE CASE IN CALIFORNIA AND MOST OF THE WESTERN BORDER STATES. NOW, JUST QUICKLY, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT DID CONCERN ME ABOUT THE POLL IS WE DID ASK PEOPLE HOW ALL OF THIS CONTROVERSY WITH 1070 AND WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE LEGISLATURE HAS AFFECTED THE IMAGE OF ARIZONA? AND A VAST MAJORITY OF THE VOTERS IN ARIZONA SAID THAT IT'S GIVEN A NEGATIVE IMAGE TO ARIZONA OUTSIDE THE STATE. AND THAT SHOULD CONCERN US SOME WITH US TRYING TO GET BUSINESSES TO COME HERE.

Ted Simons: INTERESTING. GOOD STUFF, BRUCE, AS ALWAYS. SOMETHING TO CHEW ON FOR QUITE A WHILE. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

Dr. Merrill: THANKS, TED.

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