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VoteCast: Arizona Voters Divided On State Of Nation

jamelah e./Creative Commons

As they determined the outcome of one of the nation's most competitive Senate races, voters casting midterm election ballots in Arizona were divided over the state of the nation, according to a wide-ranging survey of the American electorate.

A little less than half said the country is on the right track, AP VoteCast found, while a little more said the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Voters cast ballots for governor and members of Congress, including the race to replace retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake. The battle pit Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema against Republican Rep. Martha McSally and drew more than $90 million in spending.

Here's a snapshot of who voted and why in Arizona, based on preliminary results from AP VoteCast, an innovative nationwide survey of about 138,000 voters and nonvoters — including 4,128 voters and 443 nonvoters in the state of Arizona — conducted for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago.



Immigration was at the forefront of voters' minds: About one-third named it as the most important issue facing the nation in this year's midterm elections. About one-quarter of voters considered health care paramount, with fewer identifying the economy, the environment or gun policy as the top issue.

Lifelong Republican Kay Matthews, a 72-year-old substitute teacher who dropped her early ballot off at a Phoenix library, said the economy is important to her, but immigration is an equal concern. She's troubled by any influx of immigrants entering the country illegally, she said.

"I've been taught as a young child that you respect the law. You don't have to always agree with it, but you do respect it," Matthews said. "If you don't like it, then you work for a change."

Keith Cook, 53 and an information technology worker at a hospital, has been a Democrat since switching from the GOP since the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Back then, he felt the Republicans were too aligned with the Christian right.

A Christian himself, he said the issues that weigh on him are climate change and homelessness.

"If you see a neighbor that needs something, you help them out. We're not doing that anymore. People are saying they're Christians but what they're saying is not Christian," Cook said. "The whole mess with 'Let's get all the immigrants out,' that's silly. Christ said nothing about that."



Arizona voters have a positive view of the nation's current economic outlook, with about two-thirds saying the nation's economy is good.

Arizona's unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the national rate remains at a five-decade low of 3.7 percent.



For one-third of Arizona voters, President Donald Trump was not a factor they considered while casting their votes. By comparison, 3 in 10 said a reason for their vote was to express support for Trump, and roughly one-third said they voted to express opposition to Trump.

Voters in Arizona had mixed views of Trump: 49 percent said they approve of how he is handling his job as president, while 50 percent said they disapprove of Trump.

"This particular election, I'm very frightened the direction the country is going in under Trump and his Republican supporters, which includes relatives of mine," said Kory Ambrosich, a 52-year-old math teacher at a Phoenix community college. "I think that direction definitely needs to be halted and changed," she said.

Ambrosich, a Democrat, said she cares about human safety. To her, that means everything from providing universal health care to caring for immigrants and eliminating hate speech.

Keith Broadwater, 65, a commercial builder from north Phoenix, said his votes reflected his support for the president. Broadwater, who voted for McSally and GOP Gov. Doug Ducey, described himself as a "Christian American constitutional conservative Republican — in that order."

He credited Trump with improving the business climate.

"The government is being managed by people that want less government to cut the regulations down on businesses and all the different industries so that the entrepreneurial free expression of ideas can run again," Broadwater said.



In the race for Senate, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema was neck and neck with Republican Martha McSally among white voters. Whites with a college education were divided, and whites without a college degree appeared to prefer McSally.

Sinema led among black voters and also was preferred among Hispanic voters.

Voters under 45 favored Sinema; those ages 45 and older were split.

Sinema had a strong lead among those making less than $50,000, while the candidates split higher-earning voters. McSally held a strong lead among those who listed the economy and immigration as their top concerns, while Sinema dominated among health-care voters.



Republican Gov. Doug Ducey took about two-thirds of the white vote on route to his re-election victory against Democrat David Garcia. Garcia had an advantage among black voters and Hispanic voters, and split among those under 45. Voters ages 45 and older favored Ducey.

White voters without a college degree supported Ducey. White college graduates also appeared to favor him. Ducey split the urban vote and handily won in the suburbs, rural areas and small towns. 



Tuesday's elections determined control of Congress in the final two years of Trump's first term in office, and about two-thirds of Arizona voters said which party will hold control was very important as they considered their vote. Another 1 in 5 said it was somewhat important.



In Arizona, three-quarters of registered voters who chose not to vote in the midterm election were younger than 45. A wide share of those who did not vote — nearly 9 in 10 — did not have a college degree. About as many nonvoters were Democrats as Republicans.