Skip to main content

Penzone leading Arpaio in latest Arizona Republic/ASU news poll

Joe Arpaio

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is trailing Democratic challenger Paul Penzone by nearly 15 points, according to a major poll released today by The Arizona Republic and ASU. Photo by Bri Cossavella/Cronkite News

October 20, 2016

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is trailing Democratic challenger Paul Penzone by nearly 15 points, according to a major poll released today by The Arizona Republic and Arizona State University. In addition, the poll showed modest support for ballot measures involving legalizing marijuana and increasing the minimum wage.

The Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News Poll shows Penzone leading Arpaio 45.9 to 31.1 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 percentage points. The poll — a joint project between The Arizona Republic and ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy and Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS — has 21.4 percent as undecided, with 1.6 percent voting for someone else.

When undecided voters were asked which candidate they were leaning toward, Penzone led Arpaio, who is seeking his seventh term, 48.6 to 35.9 percent, with 13.9 percent still undecided and 1.6 percent voting for someone else (+/-5.9).

The poll was conducted Oct. 10-15, during the time period the U.S. Justice Department announced it would pursue criminal charges against Arpaio for ignoring a federal judge’s orders to halt immigration enforcement patrols.

“Sheriff Arpaio isn’t polling well among Latino registered voters, which could be an expected result, given the fact he is now facing criminal contempt charges in addition to his civil conviction related to racial profiling of Latinos,” said Thom Reilly, director of Morrison Institute for Public Policy at ASU. “However, what is surprising, if not telling, are Arpaio’s low poll numbers among non-Latino white registered voters in Maricopa County, underscoring the longtime sheriff’s vulnerability in his toughest general election in his 23 years.”

  • Arpaio (White Voters) — Very Favorable: 13.2 percent, Favorable: 24.5 percent, Unfavorable: 21.4 percent, Very Unfavorable: 27 percent, Don’t Know/Refused: 13.9 percent (+/‐ 4.6)
  • Arpaio (Latino Voters) — Very Favorable: 5.9 percent, Favorable: 20.4 percent, Unfavorable: 24.2 percent, Very Unfavorable: 26.5 percent, Don’t Know/Refused: 23 percent (+/‐ 10.3)
  • Arpaio (Other Voters) — Very Favorable: 9.8 percent, Favorable: 21.5 percent, Unfavorable: 26.7 percent, Very Unfavorable: 29.1 percent, Don’t Know/Refused: 12.9 percent (+/‐ 5)

In Maricopa County, 53.3 percent described their opinion of the sheriff as either “unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” (+/‐ 5).

  • Arpaio (Maricopa County) — Very Favorable: 8.9 percent, Favorable: 24.1 percent, Unfavorable: 23.4 percent, Very Unfavorable: 29.9 percent, Don’t Know/Refused: 13.7 percent (+/‐ 5)

This is the second poll to be released by The Arizona Republic and ASU in the past six weeks. In the previous poll, Arpaio had an even higher unfavorability rating statewide of 54.4 percent (+/‐ 3.5) and 57.3 (+/‐ 3.5) percent in Maricopa County.

Arizona Ballot Measures

The Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News Poll also asked registered voters’ opinions on Proposition 205, a measure to legalize the possession and consumption of marijuana by persons who are 21 years of age or older.

The poll showed 50.4 percent in favor and 41.6 percent against, with 8 percent undecided (+/‐ 4). Support for Proposition 205 remained relatively the same when compared to the poll released six weeks ago.

  • Proposition 205 (October 2016) —Favor: 50.4 percent, Against: 41.6 percent, Don’t Know: 8 percent (+/‐ 4)
  • Proposition 205 (September 2016) —Favor: 50 percent, Against: 39.9 percent, Don’t Know: 10.2 percent (+/‐ 3.4)

The poll also asked voters about Proposition 206, a measure to raise the minimum wage from $8.05 per hour to $10 per hour in 2017, then gradually to $12 by 2020. The poll showed 58.4 percent in favor and 31.6 percent against, with 10 percent unsure (+/‐ 4.1).

When the same question was asked in the previous poll, support among voters for Proposition 206 was 2.9 points higher.

  • Proposition 206 (October 2016) — Favor: 58.4 percent, Against: 31.6 percent, Don’t Know: 10 percent (+/‐ 4.1)
  • Proposition 206 (September 2016) — Favor: 61.3 percent, Against: 31 percent, Don’t Know: 7.7 percent (+/‐ 3.3)


The Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News Poll, conducted Oct. 10-15, 2016, was based on research findings from 1,179 telephone interviews in English and Spanish with Arizona registered voters. The poll team contracted with Behavior Research Center to collect the data. The average number of valid responses to the questions was 811. The response rate for complete interviews was 69 percent.

The complete Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News Poll and coverage from The Arizona Republic can be found at and Cronkite News at:

The methodology report can be found at 

More Law, journalism and politics


Portrait of Elira Canga.

Former Humphrey Fellow returns to ASU Cronkite School for doctorate degree

Elira Canga arrived at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication a couple of years…

February 23, 2024
Portrait of Jemele Hill.

Jemele Hill to deliver lecture on race relations at ASU

Emmy Award-winning journalist Jemele Hill will be the featured speaker at the 2024 A. Wade Smith and Elsie Moore Memorial Lecture…

February 21, 2024
Eli Rosenbaum speaking at a lectern

Retired 'Nazi hunter' on international law as deterrence against war crimes

When it comes to using international law as a deterrent to protect the national security of the United States, is all hope lost…

February 21, 2024