ARIZONA NEWS

Why Arizona voters might not be as polarized as they seem

Oct 3, 2022, 12:15 PM | Updated: 12:23 pm
Doug Wilks, executive editor of the Deseret News, left, moderates a panel with Paul Carrese, Jack M...
Doug Wilks, executive editor of the Deseret News, left, moderates a panel with Paul Carrese, Jack McCain, Sybil Francis and Lea Marquez Peterson at the Deseret News Elevate forum in Tempe on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. (Blake Wilson, BW Creative)
(Blake Wilson, BW Creative)

Voters aren’t as divided as it seems, but it will take work to make politics reflect that reality.

That was the message at a Deseret Elevate panel held last week in Tempe, hosted by the Deseret News. Panelist Sybil Francis, president of the Center for the Future of Arizona, said Arizonans don’t feel they are extreme and don’t feel that they know many people who are.

“What we’re hearing from Arizonans and voters is they’re flustered with this narrative of polarization and division,” Francis said. “We have a foundation of common ground. We actually agree much more than we disagree.”

The center’s survey found a majority of Arizona voters agreed on issues including expanding career and technical education opportunities (97%), increasing funding for education; public safety, roads and other critical investments (82%); and comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship (81%).

Interestingly, divisive issues prominent in media and politics, such as critical race theory and completing the U.S.-Mexico border wall, didn’t receive enough support in their survey to even be included. It suggests news media coverage of politics and political rhetoric reflect only a loud minority of voters.

“We have an incentive structure that rewards extreme views in both political parties,” she said.

Francis said a recent poll conducted by her group asked likely voters if they preferred a candidate who was willing to reach across the aisle and negotiate in the interest of getting something done or a candidate who stuck to his or her ideology. The candidate willing to compromise won out.

“Two-to-one, people are more interested in candidates who are willing to reach across the aisle and compromise,” she said.

One challenge preventing our political system from reflecting the way many voters feel is an us-versus-them mentality, said Jack McCain of the McCain Institute. People assume those with different political views must be ignorant, stupid or evil, he said.

“That drives a lot of the dynamics you see today,” McCain said.

He said it’s easy to make money and fundraise in politics by being loud, but getting something done is significantly more difficult. Still, “you’re starting to see some politicians pivot.”

Paul Carrese, founding director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University, said the U.S. needs to improve its civics education.

“As an educator, there is a huge deficit of civic education and it isn’t just in K-12, it’s in higher education as well,” he said.

Lea Marquez Peterson, chair of the Arizona Corporation Commission, said she’s “seen firsthand a lot of the divisiveness that has occurred” in her role as an elected official. The commission passed a code of conduct, she said, and “maybe it doesn’t have a lot of teeth, but’s a Girl Scout, Boy Scout promise.”

“We need to agree to disagree, we need to be respectful,” she said.

A version of this story was originally published Sept. 28, 2022, on Deseret News.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...
Danny Shapiro

Ron Wolfley says Arizona Cardinals were hard-luck losers against Chargers

The Arizona Cardinals lost a heartbreaker on Sunday to the Los Angeles Chargers, a defeat Ron Wolfley said was tough luck.
15 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/U.S. Dog Agility Association)...
KTAR.com

Dogs will have run of the place in Scottsdale at Agility World Games

There will be no dogging it this week in Scottsdale when nearly 500 of the most athletic canines in the country will compete to be the best at the Cynosport Dog Agility World Games.
15 hours ago
An election worker removes tabulated ballots to be boxed inside the Maricopa County Recorders Offic...
Associated Press

GOP-controlled Cochise County refuses to certify 2022 election

Officials in a rural Arizona county refused Monday to certify the 2022 election ahead of the deadline amid pressure from prominent Republicans to reject a vote count
15 hours ago
(Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Screenshot)...
KTAR.com

Watch: Maricopa County meets to canvass 2022 general election

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is meeting to canvass the 2022 general election. The livestreamed meeting includes public comments.
15 hours ago
Drummer Lars Ulrich (L) and frontman James Hetfield of Metallica perform at Allegiant Stadium on Fe...
Kevin Stone

Metallica to invade State Farm Stadium with pair of ‘No Repeat’ shows in 2023

Nothing else will matter for metro Phoenix metalheads next year when Metallica brings a double shot of headbanging to State Farm Stadium.
15 hours ago
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)...
KTAR.com

Man found shot, dead inside car parked on Phoenix street

A man with a gunshot wound was found dead inside a vehicle Sunday in Phoenix and police said they're investigating the case as a homicide.
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Why Arizona voters might not be as polarized as they seem