An Analysis of Swing Voters in Arizona and Pennsylvania

Independent Center Contributor Gabriel Mitchell

Swing states. We’ve all heard the buzz term. A swing state refers to any state likely to have a significant influence on upcoming federal elections, characterized by the unpredictable nature of its outcome, with both major political parties having a viable opportunity to secure victory. If you care about elections, you should pay attention to these states, like Arizona and Pennsylvania.

While lists may vary slightly, sources like The Hill give us six states that fit this description.

Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia

Here at the Independent Center, we’ve been very interested in understanding two of these states: Pennsylvania and Arizona. You can find our in-depth survey data by signing up on the website HERE.

What do registered voters in these two states want, policy-wise?

To answer this question we asked them directly, “[…] which of the following do you think will have the biggest impact on your vote?

A bar graph showing the rankings of issues that will have the biggest impact on their vote. There are separate bars Arizonian and Pennsylvanian voters. The graph highlights the top 4 rankings are Jobs/Economy then Immigration then Taxes/Gov. Spending and then abortion.

As we explained in our article on Afforadability & Inflation most Americans, view economic issues as their highest policy priority. Voters in both Arizona and Pennsylvania feel the same way. Their three main priorities, in order, are economic issues, immigration, and government spending.

There are some noteworthy nuances in this data. Arizona voters are, at least slightly, more likely to view immigration as a priority than Pennsylvania voters. This may partly be due to Arizona having a significant Hispanic and/or Latino population. 20% of polled Arizona voters self-identified as being of “Hispanic or Latino descent”

Two pie charts showing the responses of voters in Arizona and voters in Pennsylvania to the question of rather they consider themselves to be Hispanic or Latino descent.  20% saying yes in Arizona with 5% saying yes in Pennsylvania.

It should be no surprise that when a policy topic directly affects voters, they tend to care about it more. In fact, out of the 50 states, Arizona ranks 15th for the state with the most foreign-born residents. According to World Population Review, foreign-born residents make up 12.6% of Arizona’s population, a stark contrast from the 7.2% of Pennsylvania.

In both states, voters prefer a moderate immigration policy. One where immigration is regulated but not strongly limited. We gave them the statement, “Borders are used to control immigration” and asked which of the listed responses they agreed with the most. Over 50% in each state agreed with the statement that “The Government shall regulate immigration to allow necessary immigrants to come in a legal way”

Two pie charts showing responses to a question about immigration by the voters in Arizona and the voters in Pennsylvania. In both states over 50% of voters feel the government should regulate immigration but still allow for a legal way for necessary immigrants to come in. The remaining percentages are split nearly even between the belief the immigration should be more strongly regulated and the belief that ones birth and nationality should not define their rights.

Given this, how will they vote? It’s hard to say.

Like most Americans, Arizona and Pennsylvania voters are dissatisfied with the two-party system. A majority of voters in both states expressed a distrust that either of the major two parties would listen to their concerns. 

4 pie charts showing the amount of trust voters in Arizona and Pennsylvania have in democrats and republicans. In all 4 charts voters express overwhelming distrust.

These voters also express serious pessimism about the current American political climate.

A bar graph showing the responses of asking voters in Arizona and Pennsylvania to the question "How do you view the current political climate in America?" 
78% of voters in Arizona view it negatively. 74% in Pennsylvania view it negatively.

If they don’t like the current options, what do these swing state voters think makes the ideal presidential candidate?

In both states, they want a candidate who will work with both sides of the political spectrum instead of prioritizing party loyalty. 

Notably, these voters don’t seem too concerned about how “civil” or “tolerant” a candidate is. The ideal candidate should have “common sense” and be “levelheaded.” This may mean that you can’t win these voters by focusing on the “mean tweets” of the opposition. 

A bar graph showing the answer to the question "which candidate description would you find most desirable?"
Among both Arizona and Pennsylvania voters a the top two Reponses are Common Sense and Level Headed.

Ultimately the voters of Arizona and Pennsylvania are like the rest of us, cornered about our country’s deteriorating economic and political situation. These swing state voters want a pragmatic leadership that transcends party lines, emphasizing solutions over rhetoric and practicality over polarized politics. As the data reveals, the pathway to winning their support lies in addressing core issues like the economy, immigration, and government spending with a common sense and level-headed approach. 

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