PHOENIX – Despite Arizona’s national reputation as a hardline immigration state, most “likely voters” in the Grand Canyon State oppose deporting all undocumented immigrants in the United States, according to a poll of Arizona registered voters released Wednesday.
The Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News Poll also found that a majority of likely voters opposed building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and harbor an “unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Statewide, the poll shows, Arpaio received a combined favorability rating of 39.4 percent. His combined favorability rating in Maricopa County, though, was 38.2 percent. Arpaio’s combined favorability rating among Hispanics was 24.1 percent.
The poll was conducted from August 17 to 31, during the same time period in which a federal judge referred Arpaio to the Justice Department for possible criminal contempt of court prosecution.
Arpaio, reached by phone, said the poll “didn’t mean anything” because he’d already won by a landslide in the recent Republican primary election. He referred all questions to his campaign manager Chad Willems, who also said the “blowaway primary” won by Arpaio “stands in stark contrast” to the poll’s findings. He said the campaign’s internal polling shows Arpaio has high approval ratings and will “heavily” defeat his Democratic rival Paul Penzone.
The poll, conducted by the Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center, asked likely Arizona voters: “Should the U.S. build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. in an effort to secure the border?” A total of 41.4 percent of respondents said the United States “should definitely not” build a border wall, while 13.2 percent said the United States “should maybe not” build the wall. Slightly over one-fourth, or 25.4 percent, of likely voters said they believed the nation “should definitely” build a border wall, while 8 percent said the United States “should maybe” build the wall.
The margin of error for the border wall question in the poll was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
An earlier Cronkite News-Univision News-Dallas Morning News poll conducted in May by Baselice & Associates, Inc. found that even more residents along the border opposed building the wall.
About three out of four residents (72 percent) surveyed on the U.S. side of the border said they do not support building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The margin of error in that poll was plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
The poll asked respondents whether they agree with the statement: “I support deporting all illegal immigrants currently in the United States.”
Among all respondents to the deportation question, 43.9 percent said they did not agree with the statement and 24.2 percent said they strongly disagreed with it. Among respondents favoring deportation, 19.1 percent said they agreed and 5.6 percent said they strongly agreed with the statement.
A majority of Republican, Democrat and Independent voters oppose deporting all undocumented immigrants. About 58 percent of Republican survey respondents opposed this statement, compared to about 80 percent of Democrats.
Political consultant Stan Barnes said even though many Republicans oppose deporting all unauthorized immigrants, it may not cost Trump votes.
“Voters that may disagree with Trump on some of the details of his immigration policy are voters that might still vote for him for other reasons, based on issues they care more about or based on their own dislike for the Democratic nominee (Hillary Clinton),” Barnes said.
Cronkite News contacted Coalter Baker, a spokesperson for Trump’s Arizona campaign, by telephone, but Baker would not agree to a phone interview. He said he would only communicate by email, but at press time he had not responded with a statement about the poll’s findings.
Alfredo Gutierrez, a former Arizona state senator and the current president of the governing board of the Maricopa County Community College District, didn’t seem surprised by the findings of the poll. He said Arpaio’s supporters are dwindling.
“His supporters in this state and this county will be reduced really to that group of people who are proud of their anti-Mexican views, their anti-immigrant views,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said there has been an increase in the number of people who realize that the United States will not deport millions of people.
“Whatever the number is, we are not going to pick up 11 million to 30 million people and put them in trains and buses and take them to the border without consideration for human rights, civil rights and legal procedures,” Gutierrez said.
Jonathan Beltran, 20, a merchandiser in Scottsdale, said his parents immigrated legally to the United States from Mexico. Beltran, who said he was born in the United States, said undocumented people don’t have a right to be in the country. But he added it should be easier for people to enter the country legally.
Like Gutierrez, he’s not surprised by the results of the new poll.
“America is becoming more accepting,” Beltran said.
Connie Bousselaire, 62, a retired human resources worker from Fountain Hills, said she supports Trump’s plan to deport undocumented immigrants from the United States and build a border wall.
Bousselaire said she was surprised that the poll showed most likely voters in Arizona didn’t agree with the deportation of all undocumented immigrants.
But she said she was “not totally surprised” that a majority of respondents disagreed with the idea of building a wall between the United States and Mexico.
“I think they might be in favor of some type of secure border structure,” Bousselaire said.
“But a wall sounds a bit too ominous.”
The Morrison Institute for Public Policy contracted with Behavior Research Center to conduct the poll from Aug. 17-31. Using up-to-date voter registration lists, almost 1,700 live land line and cellphone calls were used to obtain an average of 800 valid responses from likely voters per question. The interviews were performed in English or Spanish. The margin of error fluctuates by question between plus or minus 3 to 4 percentage points.
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