Morrison Institute poll: Voters doubt SB 1070 benefit, want job focus
Oct. 25, 2012
Despite Arizona’s reputation for strong anti-immigrant sentiments, less than a third of Arizonans believe the controversial SB 1070 law benefitted the state, according to results of a new Morrison Institute poll examining a wide range of issues including immigration and Latinos.
In fact, immigration, which once dominated Arizona’s political discourse and earned it international notice, came in fourth among topics that voters said they want the Arizona Legislature to address.
Job creation was deemed the state’s most pressing issue.
“The poll’s findings suggest that Arizonans are ready for a post-SB 1070 focus by lawmakers, with voters believing the state should now be concentrating on building Arizona’s new economy by preparing for jobs and economic development for the population we have,” said Sue Clark-Johnson, executive director of Morrison Institute.
The poll of registered voters across Arizona was conducted in early October.
Here to stay
Arizonans and their political leaders have for years urged the federal government to “secure the border” against illegal entry, and have promoted laws and policies to drive the undocumented out of the state and discourage them from coming.
Yet today most seem to be accepting of — or resigned to — undocumented immigrants’ long-term presence in the state.
The survey asked voters whether they expected that most of the undocumented immigrants currently living in Arizona will still be here in 10 years. Nearly 80 percent of respondents answered in the affirmative; the percentage of “yes” responses held at 75 percent or higher across all categories of gender, age, income, ethnicity and political party. Fourteen percent of respondents answered “no” to the question, with 6 percent either saying they didn’t know or declining to answer.
The verdict on SB1070
Central to Arizona’s effort against undocumented immigrants is Senate Bill 1070, which was passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Jan Brewer in the spring of 2010. The law, which was immediately challenged in court by the U.S. Justice Department, was at the time the nation’s harshest anti-immigrant measure and spawned copycat bills in other states.
In June 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the most controversial part of SB1070, which requires police to determine the immigration status of someone arrested or detained when there is “reasonable suspicion” they are not in the U.S. legally.
However, the law — which was initially supported by a majority of Arizonans — seems to have slipped in popularity. The Morrison Institute poll asked whether SB1070 had in general been beneficial or damaging to Arizona. Nearly one-third of respondents — 32 percent—said the measure had benefited Arizona, while 41 percent said it had damaged the state. Thirteen percent said the law had done “some of each,” while 15 percent said they had no opinion or declined to answer.
Among the respondents, Republicans were much more likely than Democrats or Independents to view SB1070 as beneficial to Arizona, while Latinos were much more likely than residents from other ethnic groups to consider it damaging.
In a Morrison Institute/Knowledge Networks Poll published in September 2010, 64 percent of those registered voters surveyed in Arizona supported all three provisions of SB 1070 – the requirement to produce documents verifying legal status; allow police to detain those unable to produce verification of legal status; and requiring police to question anyone they suspect may be in the country illegally. Seventeen percent of Arizonans in that poll opposed all three.
Arizonans’ biggest concern
If Arizonans are split over the value of past anti-immigrant efforts, they seem more unified in their concern today with issues other than immigration. Provided a list of seven major issues, respondents were asked to choose the one most important for their lawmakers to address; they were also allowed to name an issue not on the list.
The greatest concern by far was directed to “job creation” at 39 percent; “education” was next at 20 percent followed by “health care” at 16 percent. “Immigration issues” was named by 10 percent of respondents, followed by “housing,” “environmental issues” and “social programs.” Issues named by respondents — and receiving 1 percent or fewer responses—ranged from “legalize marijuana” to “reduce the size of government.”
Arizona’s Latino future
While Arizonans’ ardor over immigration may have cooled somewhat, most may still not fully appreciate the coming impact of past undocumented immigration combined with the continuing growth of the Latino population. As described in a recent Morrison Institute report, Arizona’s Emerging Latino Vote, the central demographic fact facing Arizona is the rapid growth of its Latino population and the decline of its non-Hispanic White population.
A key component of this fundamental change is the large number of Latino children who are U.S. citizens—whether or not one or both of their parents are. But most Arizonans seem unaware of the magnitude of this population group. Asked to guess what percentage of Latino children 10 years of age and younger in Arizona are U.S. citizens, the responses ranged from 1 percent to 100 percent. The levels most often chosen were 50 percent and 70 percent. Only about 8 percent of respondents chose the number closest to the U.S. Census Bureau’s official estimate, which is more than 90 percent.
This Morrison Institute Poll consisted of 709 telephone interviews with registered voters statewide, conducted between October 4 and 10 in English and Spanish by the Behavior Research Center. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For more information, contact Morrison Institute Communications Director Joe Garcia at 602-496-0205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.