AZ Primary Exit Polls: A Moderate Conservative is Emerging
You could be forgiven for imagining that everyone in Arizona is as rabid as the Governor, Jan Brewer. If you live in the rest of the country – especially anywhere in Blue America – it is easy to believe that the megalomaniacal sheriffs, illegal-stomping senators, and finger-wagging governor represent just the kind of people who live in the Great Southwest.
But a look inside the exit polls in Arizona’s recent Republican Primary reveals a far less batshit-crazy electorate than you thought. And remember, this is Republican primary voters; arguably Arizona’s most rightest of right-wingers.
There is nothing remarkable about who these desert dwellers voted for – Romney won every single split. But their attitudes about the issues of the day, while not yet liberal, are not so conservative anymore either.
I’m thrilled about that. My personal love affair with Arizona goes way back to the 1980s. A job took me there. But the lifestyle, the people, and the almost indescribable natural beauty kept me there. The job was over almost before it began, but I stayed in Tucson for more than half a decade. I left for another job and – though my life has been better than wonderful – I have always regretted the choice. Arizona is that kind of place.
Politically, Arizona is one of those weird southern states where south is north and north is south. The southern third, down to the Mexican border, is liberal and fun-loving. You might be surprised to know that illegal immigration isn’t considered much of a crisis down Tucson way. There, SB1070 – the anti-immigrant law – is considered an embarrassment.
But north from there – in a wide, urbanized inkblot in the middle of the state where about half a dozen cities have grown together – is Greater Phoenix. It’s the stretch where all the old folks and rich folks have moved in from up north or back east. And there, Arizona is redder than a Vermont blond after a day of tubing on the Salt River. That’s vivid red, cancer causing red, Republican red. And that’s where a majority of Arizonans live. (For the record, the northern part of the state, from Flagstaff on, varies widely in its politics.)Continued on the next page