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PollerCoaster: Voting Rights in Arizona

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Crooked Media has partnered with Change Research to conduct a series of polls. You can view the complete crosstabs here, and read more insights from Change here.


Arizona is home to one of the most dangerous voter suppression schemes in the country, as well as a Democratic senator who could be the deciding vote in passing legislation that would reform our elections and protect the voting rights of all Americans. To find out how Arizonans feel about these issues, Crooked Media and Change Research surveyed 1113 registered voters from March 17-20. A full summary of the survey’s methodology is available here.

THE GOOD NEWS

Voting rights is a top issue for Arizona voters. In a list of 20 issues, it’s tied with immigration at 11 percent as voters’ second most important issue, right after fighting the pandemic (14 percent). Among just Biden voters, voting rights is a clear #2 at 18 percent—ahead of health care, the environment, civil rights, and education. It’s also the top issue for the more than 13 percent of Trump voters who say “voter fraud” is their top issue.

  • The issue is breaking through: 62 percent of Arizonans have heard “a lot” or “a decent amount” about the For the People Act.

57 percent of Arizonans support the For the People Act, described as a bill which “ends dark money in politics, ends partisan gerrymandering, automatically registers citizens to vote if they’re eligible, expands in-person early voting, makes voting by mail simpler, and enhances election security with a paper trail for every ballot.”

  • Bipartisan support: 54 percent of independent voters and 22 percent of Republicans said they support the bill.

The For the People Act’s individual provisions are popular—some overwhelmingly so.

  • At least 60 percent of Arizonans oppose nearly all of the voter-suppression bills that the state’s Republican legislature is trying to pass. These bills include eliminating the permanent early voting list (60 percent oppose), requiring mail ballots to be notarized (60 percent), requiring absentee ballots to be returned in person (60 percent), rejecting ballots received on Election Day if they’re postmarked too late (60 percent), and a constitutional amendment allowing the state legislature to overturn the results of the presidential election (64 percent). The only popular GOP measure is requiring proof of citizenship to vote, which 62 percent of Arizona voters support.

A plurality of Arizona voters support ending the filibuster to pass the For the People Act. 46 percent are in favor of this, 42 percent are opposed, and 11 percent aren’t sure.

  • 82 percent of Biden voters want to nuke the filibuster, and just seven percent are opposed.

Nearly 75 percent of Arizonans support raising the minimum wage, and 44 percent support raising it to $15. Twenty-nine percent of voters said they support raising the minimum wage to less than $15, and only 24 percent said they don’t support raising the minimum wage at all.

THE CHALLENGE 

Arizona is still a polarized, closely divided state.

  • Joe Biden’s approval is 47-50 (-3)
  • 46 percent say voter suppression is a bigger problem, while 44 percent say voter fraud
  • 50 percent say that Democrats’ voting-rights laws are a greater threat than GOP voter suppression laws
  • 50 percent say the goal of H.R. 1 is to get Democrats elected, and 46 percent say the goal of Arizona Republicans’ legislation is to get Republicans elected.

The For the People Act gets less popular after Republican messaging—mainly because Republican voters learn that Democrats are the ones trying to pass it. After messaging questions and a rundown of what’s in the bill, support falls to 50 percent, while opposition rises to 43 percent. The drop is almost entirely a result of partisan sorting: those who stop supporting the bill after the messaging voted for Trump by an 84-11 margin.

Most Arizonans haven’t heard much about the Arizona GOP’s voter suppression bills. Just 49 percent have heard a decent amount or a lot about these bills.

Democratic voters aren’t thrilled with Senator Kyrsten Sinema, and it’s dragging her approval down. Like Joe Biden, Sen. Mark Kelly’s favorability rating is slightly underwater at 41-45 percent. But Sinema’s favorability is much worse at 27-44 (-17), driven mainly by Democrats only approving by 40-36. That said, many of her potential Republican challengers are deep underwater—the only Arizona Republican viewed favorably by more than 25% of voters is Cindy McCain.

  • If Sinema votes to kill the filibuster, it would improve her standing in the next Democratic primary. 43 percent of Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters said it would make them more likely to vote for her.
  • If Sinema votes to kill the filibuster, it’s unlikely to change her standing in the next general election. 49 percent of voters say they’d either be more likely to vote for her or that it wouldn’t make a difference. 44 percent of voters said they’d be less likely to vote for her.

The Republican Cancel Culture strategy is breaking through in Arizona. 82 percent of voters have heard about the Fox News-generated controversy over Dr. Seuss and 67 percent have heard about the controversy over Mr. Potato Head—more than have heard about the For the People Act or the Arizona GOP’s voter-suppression bills.

  • Arizona voters are concerned about what’s happening to Dr. Seuss. 48 percent say that the controversy is a perfect example of liberal cancel culture run amok, while only 42 percent say it’s a fake controversy invented by conservatives to distract from Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

THE STRATEGY

Democrats need to do three things:

1)    Shine a light on the incredibly popular provisions within the For the People Act

2)    Shine a light on the incredibly unpopular GOP suppression bills

3)    Remind voters that the For the People Act is about helping democracy, not Democrats; that it’s about helping voters, not politicians.

The most effective messages we tested about the For the People Act emphasize the non-partisan elements that help voters of all backgrounds and all parties by taking on dark money, partisan gerrymandering, and disinformation about elections.

  • Don’t sleep on gerrymandering: The most convincing reason to pass H.R. 1 by far was to establish non-partisan redistricting that would end gerrymandering. It’s 55 percent “very convincing” number was 6 points higher than any other message.
  • Don’t make this about Democrats: On the flip side, arguing that Democrats could be shut out of power if the bill isn’t passed is ineffective among Democratic voters, and alienates everyone else. 
  • The pro-H.R. 1 messages are more effective than the anti-H.R. 1 messages: “Power grab by Democrats” and “gives Washington too much power over states” were most effective, but neither performed as well as the arguments in favor of the bill.