Poll: 30% of Ariz. voters undecided

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Friday, August 29, 2008
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Almost 30 percent of Arizona voters are undecided two months before the presidential election, with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., garnering 40 percent of the vote and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., 30 percent, according to a recent Cronkite/Eight Poll.

The poll surveyed 402 registered Arizona voters, with a 5 percent margin of error.

The undecided vote is high this late in the campaign, but Poll Director Bruce Merrill said that is likely to change after this week’s Democratic National Convention and next week’s Republican National Convention.

“The Dems will get a bounce nationwide and in Arizona after their convention,” Merrill said. “Then the Republicans will get a bump after their convention. After that, in Arizona, it will most likely stay the same, but nationwide, the election will get closer.”

Tara Blanc, associate director of the Cronkite/Eight poll, said one of the reasons for the high undecided rate is because of conflicts within both parties.

“A lot of Clinton supporters are still disappointed,” she said. “They aren’t just ready to cast their vote, and McCain doesn’t have the far right on his side. He stands for some things that make the far right uncomfortable and hasn’t solidified the vote with them.”

Marketing junior Duncan Carey founded ASU Students for Liberty, an organization that promotes limited government.

He said the purpose of his organization is to give people a choice other than the usual mainstream Democratic or Republican candidate.

The large number of undecided voters is a product of lack of choice, he said. Two percent of voters support independent candidate Ralph Nader and less than one percent support Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, according to the poll.

“People are apathetic because no one speaks to them,” Carey said. “They get tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.”

Carey said there isn’t much difference between Obama and McCain.

“Both are interventionists who believe in using national defense as a national offence,” he said. “Both want to expand government — McCain with more warfare spending and Obama with more social programs.”

McCain got support from independents when he ran for senator seven years ago, now, Merrill said, independents are divided 50-50 in the upcoming presidential race.

Merrill also attributed the high undecided rate in Arizona to intense media coverage and intense temperatures.

“Arizonans don’t get involved in the political process until after Labor Day,” he said. “People are gone, out of town during the summer.

Candidates don’t go door-to-door during summer because it’s so hot. Also, people see an ad and go one way and then see another ad and go another way.”

The poll also found there was a significant anti-Obama vote in the state. Thirty percent of McCain voters said they were voting more against Obama than for McCain, compared to 16 percent who answered the same question as it pertained to Obama.

Merrill said the anti-Obama sentiment is a product of McCain’s recent hiring of Karl Rove staffers who launched a negative ad campaign likening Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Merrill said before the negative ads ran three weeks ago, Obama was leading in the national polls; now, it’s even.

“The reason negative ads are used is because they work. More [voters] see McCain as running a more negative campaign than Obama,” Merrill said. “The election will most likely be very close. How it comes out will depend on the sophistication of the ad campaigns run.”

Reach the reporter at philip.haldiman@asu.edu