May 14, 2004
Something appears to be undermining the popularity of Gov. Janet Napolitano in the state’s rural areas.
And pollster Earl de Berge said he’s not sure what it is. The pattern is clear, though, he said.
A statewide survey shows the percentage of people statewide who believe the governor is doing a good job has slid somewhat.
In January, 49 percent of Arizonans said she was doing a good or excellent job; that dropped to 43 percent last month. At the same time, those who believe she is doing a poor or very poor job went up 3 points, to 20 percent.
The governor’s overall ratings remained unchanged in Maricopa County. There, her positive ratings exceeded her negatives by 23 points.
There was an eight-point downward shift in Pima County, which still left her positive at 39 points.
In the other 13 counties, though, de Berge found a wholesale change.
Her positive ratings dropped from 55 percent to 34 percent, while her negative numbers doubled, to 22 percent.
The reason for that split has left de Berge scratching his head.
"The only thing I can think of might be maybe the mountain lion issue which may be perceived differently by rural people than it might by urban dwellers,’’ said de Berge who conducts polls regularly for the Behavior Research Center, a public opinion research firm in Phoenix.
When a mountain lion was spotted in the Sabino Canyon area near Tucson, the state Game and Fish Department sought to kill it to ensure it did not attack anyone. Napolitano complained repeatedly that the agency should look for other alternatives, with commissioners eventually backing down and trapping the animal.
Gubernatorial press aide Pati Urias said Napolitano is not worried about the survey.
"The fact of the matter is many Arizonans appreciate the job she is doing," she said.
The survey of 713 adults, including 555 registered voters, was conducted between April 29 and May 4 and has a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.