Bush and Gore tight in Arizona<br>

FLAGSTAFF-The pundits may have defined Arizona as a safe state for George W. Bush, but they shouldn't be so quick to judge according to recent Grand Canyon State Poll findings. In this new survey, 49 percent of likely voters in Arizona support Al Gore and 40 percent support George W. Bush. The margin of error for survey questions was +/-5 percent, technically making this a statistical dead heat. Bill Clinton won the state in the 1996 presidential election, but Arizonans have a long history of supporting Republican presidential candidates prior to 1996. The Grand Canyon State Poll was conducted by the Social Research Laboratory at Northern Arizona University between September 13 and September 19. Four hundred likely voters in Arizona were surveyed during this period.

In a recent survey of likely voters in Arizona, 49 percent of people would vote for Al Gore if the presidential election was held today and 40 percent would vote for George W. Bush. Three percent of likely voters support Ralph Nader of the Green party and one percent support Pat Buchanan of the Reform party.

Al Gore and George W. Bush are holding on to support from their respective political parties. Eighty-three percent of Democrats say they will vote for Gore and 75 percent of Republicans will vote for Bush. Independents in Arizona are throwing their support behind Gore campared to 30 percent who will vote for Bush.

Younger and middle age voters are splitting their votes between George W. Bush and Al Gore, but voters 60 years old and older are more supportive of Gore. Forty-five percent of 18-34 year olds support Bush and 50 percent support Gore. Among voters age 35 to 59, 45 percent support Bush and 45 percent support Gore. In contrast, there are real differences in the voting interests of older voters. Fifty-three percent of voters 60 and older support Al Gore, while 34 percent support George W. Bush.

The largest differences in patterns of support rest with women and people benefiting from a strong economy in Arizona. Women make up about half of the eligible electorate and they are very supportive of Al Gore. Fifty-seven percent of women say they would vote for Gore if the election was held today while only 35 percent would vote for Bush. In contrast, men are dividing their vote between Gore and Bush with forty-two percent of men supporting Gore and 45 percent supporting Bush.

Gore is also benefiting from people who say they are better off today than they were four years ago. More than half of likely voters (55%) say they are better off today. Twenty-one percent of likely voters say they are better off and 23 percent say they are about the same. Among the majority who are better off today, two-thirds (66%) support Al Gore for president while only 25 percent support George W. Bush. Fifty-nine percent of those who are not better off and 61 percent of those who are about the same today say they support George W. Bush for president. Twenty-eight percent of those who are not better off and 27 percent of those who are about the same, support Al Gore for president.

According to Fred Solop, founding director of the Grand Canyon State Poll, "The race is technically a statistical dead heat in Arizona, but Gore has momentum on his side. He is picking up support from key Arizona constituencies such as women and people benefiting from a healthy economy. Older voters are more likely to turnout on election day and they are supporting Al Gore for president. But the race is not over yet in Arizona. Either candidate could gain more support here if they pay direct attention to the needs and interests of Arizonans."

The Arizonans were asked to list the most important issue that the next president will have to deal with, more people said health care than any other issue. Twenty-one percent of likely voters in Arizona say health care is the number one issue in this presidential campaign. Fourteen percent of voters list the economy as the most important issues, 12 percent say education and another 12 percent say social service issues, including social security are most important issue.

Among people listing health care as the most important issue, two-thirds (66%) believe Al Gore would do a better job handling this issue and 32 percent believe George W. Bush would do a better job. Likely voters are split on who would do a better job handling the economy. Forty-six percent of people listing the economy as the most important issue say Gore would do a better job in this area and another 46 percent say Bush would do a better job. When it comes to education, 59 percent of people focusing on this concern believe Gore would do a better job handling this issue and 34 percent believe Bush would do a better job.

Likely voters were also asked to evaluate personal characteristics of the candidates. Bush and Gore were tied for support when it comes to being honest and being a strong leader. Gore prevails when people are asked which candidate cares more about people like them, which candidate has a better understanding of all the important issues facing the country, and which candidate is better prepared to be president.

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