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A new poll has found just one in three Arizona voters approves of the job Republican Gov. Doug Ducey is doing — perhaps a predictable outcome in a year where progressive and conservative groups alike have mounted recall efforts against him.
About 35% of respondents in the Suffolk University/USA TODAY Network poll of 500 likely voters viewed his performance positively, while 42% rated it unfavorably. Just over 22% of participants said they were undecided or too unfamiliar with Ducey to say.
Those low approval ratings largely held when results were broken down by age, race and geography. But there was a clear partisan divide when pollsters examined ratings by affiliation, despite the heat the governor has taken from both parties during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Roughly 65% of Republican respondents approved of Ducey’s management of the state, compared to 7% of Democrats and 35% of unaffiliated voters.
“Honestly, that was a really tough one for me to answer, because up until the pandemic, my impressions of him were very favorable — I thought he’d done extremely well for the state and was very happy with that,” said Dominique Tuilefano, a 51-year-old Phoenix resident who said she traded in her GOP affiliation to become an independent this year.
“For me, the way he handled coronavirus — succumbing to pressure from Trump and reopening prematurely — took all of those wins away. It absolutely changed my opinion of him. I feel like I don’t even know who he is.”
Ducey’s decisions in pivotal moments shaped answers for some
The governor generally fared worse among women voters than among men, with approval ratings of 29% and 42%, respectively.
Mesa voter Karen Broughton, a 78-year-old Republican who said she likes Ducey because he “thinks of things in a different way,” was among the 29%.
“He’s a businessman first, not a politician, and I think this is sometimes really helpful,” Broughton said. “I know he worked really hard to get teachers more money (during the teacher walkouts of 2018). They still need more, but I think he does the best he can do.”
She had a similar take on his handling of the pandemic, saying he’d “done a great job” with the information he had as the situation evolved.
“In the beginning, nobody really understood what was going on. He had to do something. He had to shut it down,” she said, referencing the March stay-at-home order that rankled many of her fellow Republicans.
“It was getting scary,” she said, “but now, the cases are down.”
Kirk Rens, a 27-year-old Democrat from Peoria, pointed to the same two tests of Ducey’s crisis management skills to explain why he disapproved of the governor.
“My unfavorable view of him started with education and how he handled things back when there was a teacher strike,” he said. “Then, with … COVID-19, the ‘quarantine’ he put in place (the stay-at-home order) was a joke. It had so many exceptions, it really didn’t do anything, and then he lifted it. So, that was just not handled correctly.”
Lower earners unsatisfied with governor’s efforts
In addition to party affiliation and gender, income level also seemed to affect voter impressions of Ducey.
Voters whose households fell in annual income brackets above $75,000 generally had more favorable views of Ducey’s performance than those in households earning less than $75,000 a year.
Voters in the lowest income bracket, those whose households make less than $20,000 a year, were some of the governor’s harshest critics: A mere 14% of those voters approved of the job the governor has done, while 55% disapproved.
Though Ducey has implemented some measures to expand the safety net for Arizona’s most vulnerable residents during the pandemic, he has declined to expand the state’s unemployment benefits, which are among the lowest in the nation.
The Suffolk University/USA TODAY Network poll was conducted via live interviews between Saturday and Wednesday and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points. There were even one-third shares of registered Democrats, Republicans and independents, but about 22% of participants identified as liberal and 37% identified as conservative.
Sixty percent of voters polled lived in Maricopa County. Seventy percent of respondents were white; 20% were Hispanic or Latino; 5% were Black; 3% were Asian or Pacific Islander; and 1% identified as American Indian.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona voters give Ducey low marks for job performance in Suffolk University/USA TODAY poll