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Arizona voters will pick governor with immigraton in mind

Once again, immigration is the No. 1 issue in Arizona. Surprised? Not with the influx of Central American children arriving daily at the U.S. border.

A poll conducted by High Ground Public Affairs Consultants found that 63 percent of likely voters selected immigration and border issues when asked “What do you consider to be the top issue facing Arizona today?”

Illegal immigration is the issue the state of Arizona can’t get away from. There were protests and rallies in 2007 and 2008. Then, the National Guard was stationed on the Arizona side of the U.S./Mexico border assisting the Border Patrol as thousands snuck through the Sonoran desert every month.

In 2010, the issue came roaring back during the SB1070 debate as lawmakers hoped to give law enforcement more powers to deal with illegal immigrants. Most of those powers granted by the state were thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, the fight continues.

Paul Benz with High Ground told us Monday on Rob & Karie that the number of likely voters who say border issues are the most important in Arizona is higher than it was during that SB1070 debate.

Here are some other findings in the poll:

• 65 percent rated immigration and border issues as a “major public policy crisis.”

• 66 percent want the federal government to “immediately return unaccompanied children back to their country of origin.” (In what the government said was a start, about 40 migrants were flown back to Honduras from New Mexico on Monday.)

• 37 percent would “definitely” support raising taxes in Arizona “if the federal government refuses to secure the border.”

• Another 20 percent said they would “probably” support a tax hike for border security.

That’s how important this issue is — almost 60 percent of likely Republican voters said yes to raising taxes.

High Ground’s poll comes out six weeks before Arizona’s primary election. So far, no one is running away with the governor’s race. Undecided is the big winner, getting 45 percent support.

The difference in this race will come down to immigration. It will be everywhere over the next six weeks (even if, somehow, Congress manages to pass a bill dealing with the crisis). It is already the focus of most of the candidates’ TV commercials as they try to outslug each other over who will be tougher on the border while they all seek Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s endorsement.

The real question should be, what, if elected, can the Arizona governor realistically do about illegal immigration? The answer is, as Robert Robb pointed out in the Arizona Republic, not much.

Maybe it doesn’t matter what the governor does about illegal immigration. Maybe what voters are truly
seeking is someone who simply agrees with their position.

Think about it, though. Action is clearly of secondary importance. Inaction in government is everywhere. Getting Congress to pass a bipartisan bill about anything is almost impossible. And we will decide who will become Arizona’s next governor based on an issue they have little to do with.

When we head to the polls, we aren’t voting to make this country a better place. Instead, we are checking off the names that make us, as voters, feel validated.

In other words, we are looking for the candidate who tells us our beliefs are right.