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Key Findings to Political Behavior of Young Swing Voters in Arizona Poll

Poll Results Whitepaper

Inspired by John S. McCain’s legacy of 31 years as a dedicated Senator of Arizona and our partnership with Arizona State University, the McCain Institute is uniquely positioned to champion the voices of the next generation of Arizonans. A notable battleground state in the 2022 midterm elections, Arizona not only determines the balance of power in Congress but also serves as a litmus test for the health of democracy in our nation. With reports of voter intimidation at the ballot drop box and being a national hotspot for election deniers with an unprecedented level of youth voter turnout, Arizona is the state to watch. The perspective of Arizonan youth on these and other issues are critical insights for the 2024 presidential election.

The McCain Institute collaborated with SocialSphere, Inc., to develop a benchmark survey aimed at providing fresh insight and perspective into the attitudes, opinions, and interests of young 18-29- year-old-Arizonans as they pertain to democracy, politics, and civic engagement.

More specifically, the study sought to understand young Arizonans’ views toward:

  • The 2022 midterm elections
  • The most important issues related to the future of Arizona
  • Barriers to civic engagement and voting
  • The degree to which state and federal officials understand youths’ values and vision
Key Findings

Indicating an era of activism that we see across the United States, we found significant numbers of young Arizonans engaging in civic life. Forty-three percent of young, registered Arizonans indicated that they voted in the midterm elections, fifty-one percent spent time researching candidates or political issues that were unfamiliar to them, thirty-six percent shared or posted political content on social media, and twenty-four percent attended a political event, rally, or demonstration.

When asked to choose which issue was most important to their vote in the midterm elections young Arizonans ranked inflation (32%) and abortion (30%) above all else — with democracy (12%), climate change (11%), immigration (7%), and crime (7%) following behind. Seventy-eight percent of young Arizonans reported cost of living as a “very important” issue along with housing (74%), health care (73%), protecting individual rights and freedoms (72%), mental health (70%), K-12 education (68%), reproductive rights (68%), and the economy (67%).

Among those who did not vote more than a third regret their decision. Women (45%) were more likely than men (27%) to regret not voting; progressives (50%) were more likely than moderates (27%) and conservatives (38%) to regret not voting; and Whites (45%) were more likely than Hispanics (29%) to regret not voting.

When provided with a list of barriers to voting, young Arizonans indicated that poor candidate choices (47%), lack of information about candidates and issues (46%), lack of information about the voting process (34%), and concerns about the time commitment (34%) were the most significant. One-in-five Arizonans cited intimidation or harassment at the polls as a barrier to voting; young people of color (Blacks 31% and Hispanics 21%) are more likely than Whites (17%) to say intimidation or harassment at polling or ballot drop box locations is a barrier to voting.

Most young Arizonans do not believe that elected officials, whether local or in Washington, value their views and perspectives. Only forty-six percent of Democrats and thirty-six percent of Republicans believe political officials in Washington value their perspective, and only and forty-seven percent of Democrats believed that local officials did, though fifty-six percent of Republicans indicated that local officials did value their views. Furthermore, only half of young Arizonans believe that the midterm elections were legitimate and reflected the will of the people, looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election in Arizona, only forty-one percent of the sample expressed confidence that it will reflect the will of the people.

Nearly half of young Arizonans surveyed indicated that their political values took shape during middle school and high school, before they turned eighteen. Fifty-seven percent of young Arizonans were encouraged by someone to vote, and parents were regarded as about twice as influential as other groups and individuals such as college professors, friends, teachers, social media influencers, and celebrities. The experience and culture of one’s hometown was particularly prevalent in shaping young Arizonans political outlooks — especially for young people of color. The survey also found that young African Americans (36%) and Hispanics (27%) were more likely than Whites (16%) to cite historical figures as highly influential in shaping their political beliefs.

When considering the important attributes of their identity, young Arizonans overall said their country (42%), education status (39%), job or profession (38%), race and ethnicity (37%), and gender (37%) were “very important.” Sixty-eight percent of Black Arizonans and fifty percent of Hispanic Arizonans ranked race and ethnicity as the most significant attributes of their identity, thirty-six percent of White Arizonans ranked their country the highest.

Social media platforms are dominant news sources for young Arizonans, as fifty-four percent of young Arizonans regularly turn to YouTube for news, forty-five percent regularly rely on TikTok and Instagram, thirty-four percent on Snapchat, and thirty percent on Twitter. Thirty-five percent of men regularly use Twitter for news as opposed to twenty-five percent of women. Young Democrats (31%) are more likely than young Republicans (19%) to regularly turn to local TV news sources.

Mental health is an issue that transcends most divides. A solid majority of Democrats (74%) and Republicans (59%) indicate mental health as very important — as do men (68%), women (72%), and young whites (70%), Blacks (80%), and Hispanics (71%) in the state. Sixty-two percent of young LGBTQ+ Arizonans indicated feeling down, depressed, or hopeless “at least several days” in the last two weeks and twenty-nine percent have had thoughts they would be better off dead or thoughts of hurting themselves in some way. These numbers also spike when looking at those who are financially struggling and those without a college degree or who are not enrolled in college.

DISCLAIMER: McCain Institute is a nonpartisan organization that is part of Arizona State University. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent an opinion of the McCain Institute.

Publish Date
July 26, 2023