Joe Arpaio's Favorability Rating "Falls" to (Sigh) 53 Percent

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See also: Victims Wonder Why Arpaio Let Sex-Abuse Cases Languish See also: Mike Stauffer's Third-Wheel Bid for Sheriff May Keep Arpaio in Office See also: Joe Arpaio's Scooby Doo Gang Nails Obama on Alleged Damning Phone Interview With 95-year-old Woman, Presents Zero Real Evidence The good news? Sheriff Joe Arpaio's favorability rating has slipped, and his foray into the tin-foil hattery of the birthers is positively loathed by the public, with 65 percent of respondents expressing disapproval of the probe, and 54 percent expressing strong disapproval.

The bad news? Though Arpaio's ratings are down from a couple of years ago, he's still hanging in there at a 53 percent approval rating, better than can be boasted by Governor Jan Brewer, President Barack Obama, and Obama's GOP rival, Mitt Romney.

The survey of 600 likely county voters was done by the national polling firm Strategies 360, and commissioned by Citizens for a Better Arizona, the advocacy group responsible for the recall of ex-state Senate President Russell Pearce, which is working against both Pearce and Arpaio this election season.

Amazingly, despite the MCSO's botching of more than 400 sex crimes cases in El Mirage, Arpaio receives a 76 percent approval rating for being "tough on crime." (Do these people read the news, or what?) He gets far less approval for subjects such as "Being a good steward of taxpayer dollars" (46 percent) and "Keeping politics out of law enforcement" (43 percent).

But his approval ratings take a major dive when it comes to his asinine investigation into President Obama's birth certificate. As you might expect, Democrats really hate the birther mess, by a whopping 88 percent, according to the crosstabs. But more GOPers dislike it than you might imagine. The poll shows 44 percent disapproval among the tuskers.

Strategies 360 VP Kevin Ingham said he sees a downward trend for Arpaio, and describes the birther investigation as a turning point.

Also, the poll was done a month before Arpaio's disastrous July 17 birther press conference, which was widely reviled in the local media. It's possible that Arpaio's numbers have taken a greater hit since then.

I asked Ingham why the poll didn't ask a question about the sex crimes fiasco. He said CBA had only authorized the release of the information given with the press release. Beyond that, he would not comment.

I suspect that means the poll did ask, and the results were disappointing. Perhaps people are generally ignorant of the issue and will have to be informed via attack ads for it to have any traction.

The poll's numbers on the presidential contest in Maricopa County jibe with state poll results just posted by my colleague Matt Hendley. CBA's poll shows 50 percent of county voters for or leaning for Romney and just 41 percent for or leaning for the president.

Which indicates that the idea of the White House flipping Arizona blue is deader than Michael Jackson.

It also means the CBA poll is a reliable indicator of reality. Problem is, Arpaio remains strong in this county, according to the results. Not unbeatable, but many incumbents would envy a 53 percent rating.

So Democrat and Joe-foe Paul Penzone has his job cut out for him, and as I've noted in the past, the presence of Republican-turned-Independent candidate for sheriff Mike Stauffer on the ballot will make it more likely Arpaio will win another four years in office.

In any case, below is the press release that accompanied the poll:

Thursday Aug. 2, 2012

Arpaio favorability drops following unpopular "birther" investigation

PHOENIX - Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's popularity dropped dramatically after his investigation into President Obama's birth certificate earlier this year, and voters in a new poll say they want more accountable leadership in the sheriff's department.

Falling from popularity levels above 60 percent in recent years, the survey by Strategies 360 found Arpaio's personal favorability now hovers at just 53 percent among voters in Maricopa County. Importantly, the survey marks the first time in his political career where more express "very unfavorable" opinions of Arpaio (34 percent) than "very favorable" (29 percent).

"Sheriff Arpaio's 'birther' investigation appears to be a turning point for the Sheriff's once glowing public image," said Strategies 360 pollster Kevin Ingham. "By wide margins, voters told us they believe he is abusing the power of his office and is letting his personal politics get in the way of the job he's supposed to be doing."

Arpaio still garners high marks for "being tough on crime" at 76 percent approval. But an overwhelming majority of county voters -- 65 percent -- disapprove of the Sheriff's attention-grabbing investigation into President Obama's birth certificate (including a majority who "strongly disapprove"). Perhaps as a result, 65 percent of county voters also say they believe the Sheriff's Department needs leadership that is more accountable to taxpayers and the way tax dollars are spent.

"There's no question that voters want a sheriff who is tough on crime," said Ingham, "But our survey shows that voters are seriously starting to question whether the sheriff's department needs new leadership."

Strategies 360 conducted a live telephone survey of 600 voters in Maricopa County, Arizona who indicated they were currently registered to vote and were likely to vote in the 2012 General Election. The survey was commissioned by Citizens for a Better Arizona. Respondents were randomly selected from a list of registered voters in Maricopa County. 500 interviews were conducted among a statistically representative sample of likely voters and 100 oversample interviews were conducted among Hispanic likely voters. Interviews were conducted June 4 - June 11, 2012 in both English and Spanish. A combination of landline and cell phones were called to ensure greater coverage of the population sampled. The margin of error for the base sample of 500 interviews is ±4.4% at the 95% confidence level. _____________________ [1] In 2009, a Cronkite/Eight survey of Maricopa County voters showed Arpaio's job approval at 61 percent. http://www.azpbs.org/horizon/poll/2009/10-27-09.htm. In 2007, a Cronkite/Eight survey of Maricopa County voters showed Arpaio's favorability at 61 percent. http://www.azpbs.org/horizon/poll/2007/11-20-07.htm

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