Joe Arpaio's poll numbers down -- way down, according to Cronkite-Eight Poll.

Any way you slice Nickel Bag Joe's sopressata, his poll numbers have dropped dramatically. A new Cronkite-Eight poll of registered voters in Maricopa County showed that 61% of respondents, "had a very positive (32 percent) or generally positive (29 percent) opinion of Sheriff Arpaio."

Compare that to Arpaio's previous numbers. In a recent November 3 profile of the sheriff by the Arizona Republic's Dennis Wagner, Wagner noted that, "Through it all, the sheriff's approval ratings have hovered around 85 percent, arguably making him the most revered elected official in Arizona."

Indeed, in a 2001 KAET/ASU poll, "Eighty-three percent (83%) of all registered voters, with an opinion, gave Arpaio an excellent (44%) or good (39%) rating."

That looks like a loss of about 20% of Arpaio's traditional support, which is nothing for Arpaio to cheer about, even if his positive rating tops the majority. Moreover, his negatives are up. According to this latest Cronkite-Eight, 35% of respondents had a somewhat or very negative opinion of Arpaio. Compare that with a 17% poor or very poor approval rating back in the 2001 KAET/ASU poll.

Finally, a lot of the news coverage of this poll has focused on the fact that only 25% of respondents indicated that they supported a recall of Arpaio, and only 18% supported the same of Thomas. But keep in mind that this recall is essentially a symbolic effort spearheaded by two local activists. Even if they were able to gather enough signatures, it probably wouldn't appear on the ballot until November of '08, which is when both men are up for reelection.

If 25% of registered voters are willing to recall your ass, despite the fact that the recall effort is symbolic, that is not a good thing for your side, boyo.

I think you can attribute some of the attrition in Arpaio's numbers to the uproar over the arrests of Village Voice Media execs Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin. The folks at Cronkite-Eight point out that,

"The survey also found that 71 percent of those interviewed were aware of the arrests of two executives of the Phoenix New Times newspaper for allegedly violating grand jury secrecy rules. Among those who were aware of the issue, 49 percent felt the executives should not have been arrested, 34 percent said they should have been arrested and 17 percent did not voice an opinion."

However, Arpaio has been doing other boneheaded things that make him look opportunistic and thug-like, so not all of his 20% drop can be credited to the New Times fiasco.

Finally, though flacks for Thomas have expressed their approval of the new numbers, that sounds like some serious whistling past the graveyard. Respondents giving Thomas a positive approval rating numbered only 40%, and of that 40%, only 6% of it was "very positive," the rest (34%) was "generally positive." His negatives? 25% very or somewhat negative. The rest had no opinion. Those are very soft numbers, and must embolden potential challengers like Democrat Gerald Richards, who has formed an exploratory committee to test a run for County Attorney.

Arpaio, Thomas, and their flacks can spin the poll all they want. Bottom line: Reelection is not assured for either incumbent. And like they say in the bakery when life's copacetic, that's donuts, baby.

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