Posted on November 14, 2011

Mormon Voters Recalled Pearce over ‘Character,’ Not Immigration

Ben Smith, Politico, November 11, 2011

The recall of Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce, a Republican who crafted the state’s immigration law, SB 1070, was one of the biggest headlines out of Election Day Tuesday night.

A post-election survey in Pearce’s district found a major erosion among two groups who have typically supported the lawmaker: Mormon (or LDS) voters, and conservatives in general.

The survey, conducted by Project New West with Myers Research, found that Pearce won LDS voters by a 16-point margin–which is “a lot of erosion” from his previous support in that group, said Andrew Myers of Myers Research.

The reasons for this departure were not immigration or a particular political issue, the survey found, but about character.

A full 42 percent of LDS voters said they based their decision on issues like a “personal shortcoming” of Pearce’s or “his dishonesty or corruption,” said Jill Hanauer of Project New West.


And since LDS voters make up a full 34 percent of the district’s electorate, Hanauer said, that’s quite a population to lose ground with.

The survey found that conservatives in general, too, jumped ship from Pearce to Lewis.

“When you look at the fact that three in 10 conservatives sided with Lewis, that’s a pretty stunning number,” he said.


UPDATE: One other interesting point from the poll:

Immigration may not have been a motivating factor for most white voters, but Pearce is clearly not popular with Hispanics and that was a lynchpin to Pearce’s defeat. Lewis and Russell split the white vote, but Hispanics–13% of voters–broke against Pearce by a better than 3-to-1 margin.