Arizona poll: Republicans, Democrats far apart on immigration, gun control, climate

Asked whether Arizona should ease immigration policies, 55% of Democrats said yes but only 2% of Republicans agreed, according to a Morrison Institute for Public Policy poll. (Photo by Celisse Jones/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – A new state poll shows a yawning divide among Republicans and Democrats on key Arizona issues, including immigration, climate change, housing affordability and gun control.

But registered independents may well become a deciding factor in the 2020 elections, according to a poll by the ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

About 35% of active registered voters in Arizona are Republicans, 33% are independents and 31% are Democrats, according to Morrison. The poll also surveyed people who were not registered to vote.

“I think that independents – absolutely given that they represent a bigger proportion of the electorate than Democrats – they should vote. Their vote should be heard,” Melissa Kovacs, associate director of research at the Morrison Institute, said Monday.

“I also think that we learned by surveying people who are not registered to vote, their perceptions do not always line up with the average Arizonan and, were they to vote, things would change.”

Four issues showed the largest “separation of thought” between the two major political parties:

Immigration: Democrats and Republicans differed widely on whether they agreed that more immigrants should be allowed into Arizona or undocumented immigrants should be deported. However, 34% of independents agreed with both statements.

Climate: Registered Democrats feel most strongly about climate and the environment. They are more likely to say Arizona needs to do more to prepare for “climatic conditions and to agree with a statement on the impact of climate change.

Affordable housing: Republicans were more likely than Democrats and independents to say affordable housing was sufficient. Democrats agreed most often with statements that the government needs to expand its efforts or say they were willing to have affordable housing where they live.

Gun control: The gap on gun control shifted among Democrats, independents and Republicans.

This story is part of Elemental: Covering Sustainability, a new multimedia collaboration between Cronkite News, Arizona PBS, KJZZ, KPCC, Rocky Mountain PBS and PBS SoCal.

Health Reporter, Phoenix