Photo by Luis Alvarez/Getty Images Photo by Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Young voters in Arizona seem to care about policy. Politics, not so much. 

A recent poll conducted by voter outreach group NextGen American and Data for Progress show US Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has a higher approval rating with Arizona Republicans than Arizona Democrats, and a majority of voters polled support both the Biden Administration’s pause on student loan repayments and cancelling all federal student loan debt. 

The poll was conducted from Jan. 4 to Jan. 12 with 430 registered and unregistered Arizonans between 18 and 36 polled through text message and online responses. It has a ±5 margin of error. 

Millennials and Gen Z-age voters make up nearly half of Arizona’s electorate. According to Census data, nearly 22% of registered voters are 29 years old or younger, and 23% are between the ages of 30 and 44.

Polling showed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who has been the subject of ire by party activists after voting against filibuster reform, has an overall approval rating of 36% with 38% of respondents who disapprove of how she is doing her job. 

Among Democrats, her approval rating sits at 39% and disapproval rating at 44%. Sinema, who is up for reelection in 2024, has an approval rating of 41% and disapproval at 44% with Arizona Republicans. 

By comparison, Sinema’s Arizona counterpart in the Senate, Mark Kelly, is up for reelection in 2022 and a plurality of young voters approve of how he’s been operating. His approval/disapproval rating sits at 39%/38%. 

Courtesy: NextGen America/Data for Progress

Although Arizona elected two Democratic senators and President Biden carried the state in 2020, young voters are hesitant to label themselves as progressive or liberal. Poll respondents did, however, lean more towards left-leaning ideology than rightwing labels. 

Just 10% of those polled say the progressive label applies to them and 9% would call themselves a liberal. On the other side, only 9% would call themselves a conservative and 6% as Libertarian. 

Those polled seem to reflect the swing-state reputation that Arizona has received in recent elections, with 40% classifying themselves as independent and 18% saying no label applies to them. 

Both the Republican and Democratic parties had net negative approval ratings at the time of polling. The Democratic Party’s net approval rating sat at -11%, while the Republican Party’s was at -17%. 

Courtesy: NextGen America/Data for Progress

The poll also asked respondents to choose the most important issue facing young people in Arizona, here’s how the data looked:

  • Strengthening the economy – 28%
  • Cancelling student debt – 15%
  • Climate change – 13%
  • $15 minimum wage – 10%
  • Immigration reform & pathway to citizenship – 9%
  • Criminal justice reform – 8%
  • Access to safe abortions – 4%
  • Reduced drug prices – 4%
  • Improved roads and infrastructure – 3%
  • Protecting voting rights – 3%
  • Raising taxes on wealthy – 3%
  • Making Child Tax Credit permanent – 0%
Courtesy: NextGen America/Data for Progress

There is a case to be made that several issues can be wrapped together, namely strengthening the economy, cancelling federal student loan debt, and raising the minimum wage. 

A report from the House Committee on Education and Labor and the Workforce Democrats found that raising the minimum wage strengthens the economy. Economists have said that while raising the minimum wage has no impact on job growth, it does increase consumer spending. 

Removing the $1.6 trillion burden of student debt could also have a positive impact on the economy, according to a 2018 report from  The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College in New York.

According to the report, cancelling federal student loan debts could boost the economy by $86 billion to $108 billion per year over the next decade, as well as add 1.2-1.5 million jobs per year over the same time period. 

When asked to expand on support for the pause on student loan repayments and overall cancellation of federal student loan debt, the majority of Arizonans polled supported both.