Survey Says … 

Ducey, McCain, Flake & Obama have low approval numbers in a new poll

click to enlarge Doug Ducey

J.D. Fitzgerald

Doug Ducey

While he won big last November, Gov. Doug Ducey hasn't exactly dazzled the voters of Arizona in his first few months in office, according to a new poll released earlier this week.

The Public Policy Polling survey showed that only 27 percent of the 600 voters surveyed approved of the job that Ducey is doing, while 44 percent disapproved of his job performance and the remaining 29 percent said they had no opinion.

The survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, was taken May 1-3, roughly four weeks after the legislative session wrapped up.

Democrats were particularly unhappy with Ducey, with only 13 percent approving of his performance and 59 percent disapproving. Independent voters were also dissatisfied, with 13 percent approving and more than half—52 percent—unhappy with the job Ducey is doing. Among Republicans, 49 percent approved of Ducey's work so far, while 26 percent were unhappy.

Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said that Ducey was not focused on his polling numbers.

"Gov. Ducey is focused on doing what's right for Arizona and making the difficult but necessary decisions to move the state forward, like balancing our budget," Scarpinato said. "Polls will come and go, but the governor will continue to follow through on the commitments he ran on and was elected on, and he is already off to a great start."

Whether Arizonans will be happy with those commitments remains to be seen. The PPP poll notes that 63 percent of those polled said that they disapproved of the recent cuts to education (including a cut of $99 million the university system and elimination of all state funding for community colleges in Pima and Maricopa counties), while just 24 percent said they were happy with the cuts.

In general, 64 percent said they thought that not enough was being spent on K-12 schools, compared to the 10 percent who said too much was being spent and 19 percent who said that it was about right. More than half—51 percent—said not enough was being spent on higher ed, while 22 percent said it was too much and 18 percent said it was just about right.

And 52 percent said they would support a one-cent sales tax for education if they were asked to approve a voter initiative, while 39 percent said they would oppose it and 9 percent said they were unsure.

In other poll results, Sen. John McCain remained unpopular with Arizona voters, with just 41 percent approving of the job he's doing and 50 percent disapproving. PPP pollster Tom Jensen noted that McCain's approval levels among Republicans left him vulnerable, like some other longtime members of the Senate, to a primary challenge. While about half of the self-identified "somewhat conservative" and "moderate" GOP voters approved of McCain's job performance, "very conservative" Republicans were unhappy with him, with 71 percent disapproving and just 21 percent approving of his job performance.

Some of McCain's most-talked-about GOP challengers could be in close races against the five-term senator. He was only 1 percentage point ahead of Congressman David Schweikert (40 percent to 39 percent) and 2 percentage points ahead of Congressman Matt Salmon (42 percent to 40 percent). He is way ahead of state Sen. Kelli Ward (44 percent to 31 percent), who is the only serious GOP challenger openly considering a challenge at this point.

"The Arizona Senate race is reminiscent of Indiana in 2012," Public Policy Polling President Dean Debnam said in a prepared statement. "John McCain should be fine if he makes it to the general, but like Richard Lugar, unhappiness with him among conservatives could cause him to lose a primary. And if that happens, the general election could get interesting."

Arizona's other GOP senator, Jeff Flake, was also underwater in his job approval numbers. Only 30 percent of those surveyed approved of his job performance, compared to the 41 percent who disapproved.

And Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was sliding in the polls, with 48 percent with an unfavorable opinion and just 41 percent with a favorable opinion.

President Barack Obama remained unpopular, with 41 percent approving and 53 percent disapproving of his job performance.

The survey also suggested Arizona could be in play in next year's presidential sweepstakes.

Democrat Hillary Clinton, the favorite to win the Democratic nomination next year, polled within three points of many of the potential GOP candidates, including former Texas governor Rick Perry, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, surgeon Ben Carson, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul led Clinton by 5 percentage points (45 percent to 40 percent) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie led her by 7 percentage points (46 percent to 39 percent).

Here's how things are among GOP voters for their party's nominee: 16 percent like Walker; 14 percent each like Bush and Rubio; 11 percent each like Paul and Carson; 9 percent like Cruz; 5 percent each like Christie and Huckabee; and 2 percent like Perry.

UA coaches enjoyed better approval ratings than the politicians. More than six in 10 of those surveyed approved of the job that Wildcats basketball coach Sean Miller is doing, while 51 percent approved of UA football coach Rich Rodriquez's job approval. And, in a moment of Wildcat pride, 36 percent of those surveyed considered themselves University of Arizona sports fans, while just 28 percent said they were Sun Devil fans.

More by Jim Nintzel

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