Morrison-Cronkite Quarterly Poll

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A new Morrison-Cronkite Quarterly Poll will be released on what those surveyed think are the state’s top priorities. David Daugherty, associate director of Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy and the poll director, will discuss the results.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The Morrison-Cronkite quarterly poll was launched today. The poll is the work of ASU's Morrison institute for public policy and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Here now to discuss the results of the inaugural survey is the Morrison Institute's David Daugherty, who directs the statewide poll. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

David Daugherty: Thanks Ted. Glad to be here.

Ted Simons: This is the first now in a series of quarterly polls, collaboration between the two, how did this all come together?

David Daugherty: We thought there was a void for polling in the state. When you want to look at the opinions and attitudes of people in the state, we needed to have some consistent way of gathering that information. So, we decided we would launch a quarterly poll in collaboration with Cronkite so that we could continue to keep decision-makers and the general population sort of knowledgeable about what's going on in the state.

Ted Simons: And the focus now of this first poll was --

David Daugherty: We focused really on what we thought were issues the legislature would want to pay attention to. So, we did some work on what are the priorities in the minds of the citizens. What are they looking at? A fair number of questions on education. Some on water. Did some on immigration. So, we tried to cover what are really the hot button issues for the state.

Ted Simons: I want to get to some of the results in a second. As far as the poll itself, who was asked, what kind of sub-groups, what do we have here?

David Daugherty: We did 750 interviews. They were randomly selected. They had to be adults living in the state. 40% of the interviews were cell phone interviews. They were given the choice of answering the question in English or Spanish. We then weighted the data. Dr. Hedberg does the waiting for us, to make sure when all was said a done, 750 respondents look exactly like the adult population in the state so that they can represent the attitudes and opinions of everybody in the state.

Ted Simons: Delineation of age, political party --

David Daugherty: Same balance. Balance for all of those things.

Ted Simons: Let's get started here. Prioritizing issues. Highest priorities, and these are all with very high numbers. There are three. Talk to us about these.

David Daugherty: Sure. The two highest, which would come as no surprise, are education and water. We've done polls in the past. Education consistently drifts to the top. Water is always you live in the desert, everybody cares about water. The other one was law and order issues that are a big deal. They were just a half step below the top two. But those are the three that rose to the top. And I guess if I had to predict before we did the poll, those are the three I would have guessed.

Ted Simons: It sounds in terms of parsing out the numbers, better educated, the less happy you are with the school system in Arizona.

David Daugherty: I think that is a fair to say. That is exactly right. We have been looking at K-12 education in polls for the five years I have been here a half a dozen times. Invariably we get the same results. We get unhappiness with K-12 at some level. We get most people saying we need to put more money into it. And that is what we found again. And we found that education rises to the top as the -- as the biggest priority for most citizens in this state.

Ted Simons: Was there much of a difference between republicans, democrats, and independents on education issues?

David Daugherty: There is some, but not a great difference on education. When you have almost 90% of people saying education is a big deal, that doesn't leave many people to say it is not. So, you get big numbers for all political parties.

Ted Simons: What about common core?

David Daugherty: Common core was an interesting question. The way we approached that, we asked -- we split our sample in two. Half of the people we asked whether they approve or disapprove of establishing common core in the public schools in Arizona. The second half of the group we asked -- we described the basic elements of common core. Basic curriculum with testing that could compare across schools and across states without using the phrase common core.

Ted Simons: Right.

David Daugherty: What we found -- not going to come as any surprise to you I don't suspect -- is that if you use the word common core, it has been very politicized. I think we have 55% who disapproved of it. We describe the basic elements of common core, what it is trying to accomplish, we had something like 68 or 69% approve it. So, much like Obama care, common core has been politicized so you get sort of a knee jerk reaction for it or against it and that's what we found.

Ted Simons: Okay. Let's move to mid-level priorities. Things with poverty level seem like big questions here. What kind of results did you get?

David Daugherty: What we get -- what happens is -- and we started to get some differences by political party with these. When you start to talk about some of the social issues, and any time you ask about kids, you get pretty high approval. Everyone is pretty sensitive about wanting to provide opportunities for kids, opportunities for poor kids in particular. But you start to see some political differences. The democrats tend to be more approving of what I would find sort of socially-based issues. Republicans tend to be more approving of fiscal care, fiscal conservatism. And that is what starts to emerge with those social issues in the center, and independents fall somewhere in between. Independents who are now our largest political party in the state, I guess, kind of fall between. Because people from both parties, formerly of both parties have drifted into that category.

Ted Simons: From what I saw of the results, it did seem that independents tended to side more closely with republicans in a lot of these issues?

David Daugherty: A little bit. Although it depended a little bit on the issue. If you had to say are they closer to one party or the other, I would say probably the republican party.

Ted Simons: Helping kids and family under the poverty level and health education for kids under four, those were again bigger for democrats than republicans and independents on both levels.

David Daugherty: That's correct.

Ted Simons: Health care for those under the poverty -- you asked about state public universities. What was the response there?

David Daugherty: They fall into that mid-range category, in terms of interest -- in terms of where they prioritize them. We asked a question about you think our universities are better than universities in other states? It was worded more elegantly than that but that is what we were looking at. Our numbers were okay. They have a reasonably positive feeling about our state universities. Asked the same question about K-12 education, and they do not have a positive attitude.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

David Daugherty: There was a difference.

Ted Simons: As far as the lower priorities, the budget deficit. I was surprised to see that in there. State parks and recreation, not surprised, arts and culture not really surprised there. The prison system was a lower priority?

David Daugherty: Yeah, you know, and -- which was a little bit of surprise to me. I would argue that the prison system operates in the background. It is -- unless, as I said -- unless someone escapes, no one hardly ever covers it, even though it devours about 11% of the general fund every year.

Ted Simons: Yes.

David Daugherty: It is an expensive -- we put about $1 billion into that. We put about $770 million into higher education. Just to put that into perspective. But the general public doesn't really think much about it, and if they're setting priorities, that is not one of their priorities.

Ted Simons: That's interesting. And, again, this is something that you think legislators should take a look at to find out priorities?

David Daugherty: Yeah, if they're interested in what the general population is thinking about, it's worth their time to take a look at it.

Ted Simons: How do you -- how do you figure? How do you square the idea that some of these things seem so different than what the legislature focuses on and yet the legislature in and of itself is a poll to a certain degree --

David Daugherty: Right. It's interesting. And every elected official and rightly and I think they're being honest about it, think education is a big deal. And they want it to be a big priority. But when it comes to funding, it just - it's sort of a conundrum for them. You can't really have a great education system without funding it. And we live in a very conservative state and taxes and funding is -- is a big deal. And there is a real push and shove there that I think hurts education. I guess it -- conservative side, it is a tax issue.

Ted Simons: So, what do we take from this poll? What do lawmakers take from this poll? What do you take from this poll?

David Daugherty: I think it -- what it gives us is a reasonably good feel for what people are thinking about out there. If I could do this again, every time you do a poll, you think what did I miss? I would have added immigration issues and gun rights to that list of priorities. Because those things also come out of the legislature, and those are two we didn't include. Next time I would include them.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, when is the next poll and what would the focus do you think be?

David Daugherty: Yeah, we're doing the next poll -- we will probably try to get it into the field, get the interviewing done in April. We haven't talked yet about what we are going to do. We aren't necessarily going to do general population. We may do a sub-group. We may do something on business people or we may do something on just women or, you know, it really -- it really depends upon what we are trying to get at. We also use the poll to support our research projects that we have going on at Morrison. If we are doing a project on domestic violence, we may add questions on domestic violence. We use it for that reason as well.

Ted Simons: Will there be fewer in broad prioritizing questions and more on the way of yes, no, A, B, or C?

David Daugherty: There will be some of that. By doing four a year, which is really a lot of data, we can pretty much ask anything by the end of the year.

Ted Simons: All right. Congratulations on the poll. Good to have you here.

David Daugherty: Great. Appreciate it.

David Daugherty:Associate Director, Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University;

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