Out of Control Policy Blog

Dissecting the Arizona Vote

Following up on Adrian's earlier post, I decided to take a look at expressed voter sentiment in my home state of Arizona.

In terms of major elected positions, Arizonans demonstrated a fairly strong conservative streak:

  • Senator McCain won his home state 54-45 percent.
  • Voters sent back Arizona's entire congressional delegation (including Reps. Flake and Shadegg), with the exception of Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick's expected win in District 1 (former seat of Republican Rick Renzi).
  • Despite some projections that Republicans could lose control of the state House, Republicans actually seem poised to maintain their advantage in both houses, if not expand it.
  • Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross (who'd be a Democrat if it was a partisan office) is currently trailing conservative challenger Jim Lane, a City Councilman and accountant who ran on a platform that hammered fiscal responsibility (and, by extension, the fiscal irresponsibility of current city leaders).

In terms of ballot measures, Arizonans also showed a markedly conservative streak:

  • By an overwhelming 3-to-1 margin, voters approved Prop 100, which would prevent the imposition of any new real estate transfer taxes.
  • Voters were almost evenly split on Prop 101 (Freedom of Choice in Health Care initiative), which would add a provision into the state Constitution to block any laws to restrict a person's choice of health-care programs (a pre-emptive strike against universal health care, in essence). The measure is down by about 2,000 votes at the moment, and final results should be in later this week.
  • Like California and Florida, Arizonans voted to ban gay marriage via Prop 102 by a 54-46 margin.
  • Arizona voters shot down Props 200 and 201, which would have increased state regulation of the payday loan and homebuilding industries.
  • Likewise, voters soundly defeated the business-led Prop 202, which would have revamped the state's famed employer sanctions law (opponents argued Prop 202 would have enabled illegal hiring)
  • Nearly two-thirds of Arizona voters rejected Prop 300, which would have bumped legislator salaries from $24k annually to $30k.

There was one notable exception. By a 65-35 margin, voters appear to have shot down Prop 105 (Majority Rules), which would have required a majority of Arizona citizens (that's citizens, not voters) to approve any future tax increases or voter-approved spending measures. This measure would have been Arizona's equivalent of a Prop-13 style gamechanger in terms of tax reform; under Prop 105 you would have realistically needed to get the support of between 70-90 percent of voters to approve any new taxes.

This being my first election as an Arizona resident, I have to say that I'm quite surprised by the outcome. There's a palpable sense among many long-timers that Californians' flight to next-door Arizona was quickly turning the state into another left coast bastion, but where I'm sitting in Scottsdale, I'm not seeing a sudden lurch to the left. In fact, from what I'm seeing, Arizonans seem to be largely standing up for fiscal responsibility and holding back the nanny state (though the gay-marriage ban was certainly an exception there, IMO).

As dire as Arizona's fiscal outlook is today, it's my hope that the new state legislature picks up on that strong sentiment for fiscal responsibility among the electorate. To cut over $1 billion from the next budget, they're going to need the political reassurance that voters are behind them as they face some difficult choices ahead. That goes for Phoenix and other big-spending local governments as well.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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