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Arizona’s Youth Electorate: Exploring the Political Behavior of Young Swing Voters

Click here to read the post-event press release.

In recent election cycles, Arizona has not only been a battleground state for domestic politics but has also attracted attention around the world. The state’s future now rests on the shoulders of the next generation of Arizonans. How this generation civically engages with their communities will determine whether the United States returns to an era of bipartisanship and civic activism or continue down the tumultuous path set by the 2016 election cycle.

Senator John McCain was always invested in the next generation of Arizonans. To this end, the McCain Institute, in partnership with SocialSphere Inc., conducted a poll in Arizona to understand the issues that reflect broader issues impacting our democracy across the country. On July 26, an expert panel will explore how young Arizonans can defend their democracy. The panel will offer perspective and insight on the following four overarching questions:

  • How do 18-35-year-olds view the state of democracy and their communities in Arizona?
  • How do they see themselves and their political identity, including relative to their peers and older generations?
  • What issues and priorities are most important to them, their state, and their country?
  • What roles do the state and local government and political institutions play in shaping their political identity and civic engagement?


Paul Fagan
Director of Democracy Programs, McCain Institute


John Della Volpe
Director of Polling, Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics

Sofia Haft
John S. McCain Democracy Fellow, McCain Institute

Avery D. Xola
Voter Education Manager, Citizens Clean Elections Commission

Paul Fagan is the director of the Democracy Programs for the McCain Institute at Arizona State University. Previously, he served as the executive director of the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), an organization founded by Ben Affleck that seeks to bring the world’s attention to the ongoing situation in that country but also highlight the abundant opportunities for economic and social development. Prior to joining ECI, Fagan worked at the International Republican Institute (IRI), an organization that promotes democracy worldwide by developing political parties, civic institutions, democratic governance and the rule of law. He was IRI’s Africa director for nearly four years, overseeing IRI’s programs during South Sudan’s successful and historic transition to independence; led election observation missions to Nigeria and Somaliland; implemented IRI’s first programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and ushered in IRI’s return to Mali. He was also chief of party for IRI’s programs in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Earlier while at IRI, he worked on programs in the former Soviet Union and Latin America, serving as the Latin America and Caribbean division deputy director.

John Della Volpe is the director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, where he has led the institute’s polling initiatives on understanding American youth since 2000. John’s best-selling book, FIGHT, How Gen Z is Channeling Their Fear and Passion to Save America, has been called “the definitive account of America’s next great generation,” and “a great read with a tremendous amount of learning for anyone in the business of marketing, selling, or otherwise engaging with the most exciting generation in decades.” John is and NBC and MSNBC Contributor, appearing regularly on Morning Joe; his op-eds have been featured in the New York Times and Washington Post. He is the founder and CEO of SocialSphere, Inc., a public opinion research company headquartered in Massachusetts — and is pollster and advisor to President Biden.

Sofia Haft currently serves as a strategic outreach advisor to the University of Chicago Admissions Office and serves on the Board of Advisors for the Institute of Politics at UChicago. Sofia advises a number of civic organizations including the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University, Civic Alliance, 50×2026, Civic Responsibility Project, National Voter Registration Day, Vote Early Day and TurboVote. She is also a public affairs officer in the United States Navy Reserve, currently serving as the strategic communications advisor to Task Force 59, a new task force that combines manned with unmanned systems and artificial intelligence for maritime operations in the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet / U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). Haft was an early employee of Snap, Inc. – building the news team, political partnerships team, global public policy team, and opening the Washington, D.C. office. She most recently served as head of social impact and policy partnerships to address critical topics facing youth around the world. She was recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30 for policy and social impact.

Avery D. Xola is the Voter Education Manager for the Citizens Clean Elections Commission. Avery is responsible for educating the citizens of Arizona on the electoral process. Additionally, Avery creates educational materials for the public and works in conjunction with the web content manager to ensure that correct information is promulgated. Avery graduated with a Political Science degree from Arizona State University in 2018 while interning at The Secretary of States’ Office under Secretary Michele Reagan. In 2021, Avery graduated with a master’s degree in Public Administration from The Watts College of Public Service & Community Solutions. Avery has a background in campaign management, is a published writer, and is an Air Force Veteran.

Jul 26, 2023
1:00pm ET