Monday, August 03, 2009

Voters like Congress better than the Arizona legislature

According to a June survey, the Arizona legislature is less popular than Congress. And when you look at it more closely it's even worse.

by Amy B Wang
The Arizona Republic

Two-thirds of Arizonans who participated in a research panel are dissatisfied with how the state Legislature is dealing with Arizona's budget and tax issues, according to a June report by the Morrison Institute.

Two-thirds is about 66%. In contrast, the current disapproval rating for Congress (which has never been very good, because Congress has been a favorite punching bag for people to blame things on for decades) is 60.8% in the current RCP polling average.

But it gets worse than that. Most of the polls in the RCP average are not just surveys of 'adults' but most are instead surveys of 'likely voters' (though some may split the difference and use 'registered voters.') This filters out people who may not really care very much and may not even care enough to bother to actually register or show up at the polls and vote.

However, the Arizona Republic article goes on to say:

Fewer than half of the respondents said they kept tabs on current public-policy processes, including news about the Arizona state budget.

When researchers narrowed it down to this group, the rate of those dissatisfied with state lawmakers jumped to 80 percent.

So among people who are actually paying attention, four out of five disapproved with the job the legislature was doing-- in June. The language may not have specifically said, 'likely voters' but it's an almost automatic assumption that the people who are paying attention to the legislature would probably be considered 'likely voters' with very few exceptions. So out of a group of voters likely to vote next year, the approval rating for the legislature was 20% (assuming that we generously count all those who don't 'disapprove' as 'approve' and so give the lege the assumed support of all those who say they have 'no opinion,' 'refuse to answer' or 'aren't sure'-- really, we're doing everything we can here to help them out.) Twenty percent approval is dangerously into 'throw the bums out' territory.

Ah, but that doesn't even tell the whole story. Note that this survey was taken during JUNE. June was the last month of the scheduled regular session. Likely the survey was taken after the June 4 budget vote which would have decimated schools and state agencies while giving away a quarter billion dollar tax cut, and during which relations between the Governor and the Republican leadership in the legislature got so bad that she went to court and sued them to try and get them to send her the budget so she could veto it. However, since then we've gotten no budget, had a full month of special session and still no budget (though some of the proposals we've seen are even worse than the June 4 budget.) I doubt if ANYONE thinks that the legislature is more popular (or even still is as popular) today compared to where it was in June.

Pity the poor legislators. I wonder what the state legislative GOP leaders would say if someone pointed out to them that more likely voters approve of the job that Nancy Pelosi's Congress is doing, than approve of the job they are doing.

Then again, earlier this year Congress was able to pass, and the President did sign, a budget.

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