Merrill Cronkite-Arizona PBS Poll

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Local pollster Bruce Merrill will release a new poll on how the race for president is stacking up in Arizona. Pollster Tara Blanc will discuss the results.

Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," we'll have the results of a new poll on Arizona's presidential preference election and columnist E.J. Dionne talks about his new book on the history of American political conservatism. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon." "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS. Members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. A new poll released today by veteran pollster Bruce Merrill focusing on Arizona's presidential preference election which takes place next Tuesday. Here's the co-director Tara Blanc. Good to have you here. Good to have another Buce Merrill poll. You do a great job.

Tara Blanc: Thank you.

Ted Simons: This is now basically Republican presidential Democrat.

Tara Blanc: Yes. We asked 300 Republicans and 300 Democrats who they were going to vote for in the primary election.

Ted Simons: Let's start with the Republicans. That seems to be making the most noise out there. Everyone wonders is Donald Trump as strong here as elsewhere. Look at that.

Tara Blanc: Donald Trump shook out with everybody else about the way he has fared in other states. He's getting a plurality of the votes but not the majority. He's followed in second place by Ted Cruz, who really isn't outpacing his other competitors by a statistical difference. Trump is up by 31% and the other three are in a dead heats.

Ted Simons: Look at Mr. undecided.

Tara Blanc: That's a lot of votes. One thing that's interesting will be to watch how those people split. When people are undecided, if they are truly undecided they may not go to the polls. If they do go to the polls, you can think that perhaps there will be some changes, some shift, but on the other hand what we see happen afternoon is that it begins to divide the way the decided already went. The undecided it probably won't change things a lot unless something really major happens. There could be -- we have a week to go in this campaign -- [laughter] Who knows?

Ted Simons: Who are these trump supporters?

Tara Blanc: It's interesting. Across Arizona his support cuts across all population groups. We looked at everything we normally measure on and there weren't any differences. That's what we're finding across the country, that people are asking the question, where is support for trump coming from. Nobody has been able to answer that question. There's been speculation, some talk about trump's ideology, the way he talks about other groups and subgroups of the population. The way he appeals to people in terms of saying things that perhaps people wish they could say and don't feel like they can. Nobody has really gotten at what it is that appeals to people about trump. I suspect one of the reasons is we're asking the wrong questions now. The things have changed so much about how people view candidates and feel about candidates that we need to ask different questions about why somebody is loyalty to a particular candidate, particularly like Donald Trump who appeals to people at the emotional level.

Ted Simons: What's the old saying, they may forget what you say but they won't forget how you make them feel.

Tara Blanc: And Drew Westen who wrote a great book called the political mind talks about the fact that emotion trumps reason every time.

Ted Simons: Certainly trumping now. I would imagine over 60 probably does very well?

Tara Blanc: Trump did a little better in the older voters but it wasn't so glaringly evident you would say that's where he draws his support. It's across the board.

Ted Simons: Let's look at the Democrats. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Bernie Sanders speaking now down at the convention center. He's going to have to do more speaking.

Tara Blanc: In Arizona Hillary Clinton is ahead of him 2-1. Hillary draws support from older voters, more moderate voters. She finds more support amongst Hispanics voters than Bernie Sanders does.

Ted Simons: What about a gender gap?

Tara Blanc: Believe it or not we did not find a gender gap at all.

Ted Simons: That's interesting. You would think that Hillary Clinton would get the women vote maybe a little stronger.

Tara Blanc: I fully expected there would be a gap between men and women and there wasn't.

Ted Simons: So we have the polls now. We have seen looks pretty much like it does around the country.

Tara Blanc: It does. It really has -- there's nothing very different in Arizona going on that we haven't seen in other parts of the country particularly in terms of the Republican race. And again you have to understand that a poll takes the pulse at a particular point in time. We can't predict turnout so it's anybody's guess who will actually go to the polls. If we get a lot more younger voters it may be good for Bernie Sanders. If you get a lot more older people, trump and Clinton will gain from that. If you get people who are looking at what's happening with trump and deciding that they don't want him to have the nomination you may find them more likely to vote for his opponent. Anything can happen.

Ted Simons: With this in mind anything can happen as well as far as head-to-head matchups. You and Bruce did --

Tara Blanc: We started looking at head-to-head matchups and we're going to release another set of data on Thursday. But it's very interesting that the state is split right down the middle when you look at any head-to-head at the federal level.

Ted Simons: Are you suggesting, this is a little tease here, are you suggesting that we got a horse race ahead of us?

Tara Blanc: I think we do.

Ted Simons: That will be refreshing for a change.

Tara Blanc: It sure will.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here. Thank you so much. My best to Bruce.

Tara Blanc: Thank you very much.

Tara Blanc: Merrill Poll co-director

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