With possible federal criminal charges looming, public opinion is turning against Joe Arpaio in Arizona just days after a federal judge ordered the US Attorney’s Office to file criminal contempt charges against the Maricopa County controversial Sheriff, accusing Mr. Arpaio of ignoring court orders in connection with his office’s racial profiling of Latinos.
In a sweet indictment letter, District Judge G. Murray Snow wrote that the sheriff had “a history of obfuscation and subversion of this court’s orders that is as old as this case,” PoliticalDig reported last week. The judge added that there’s evidence that Arpaio and a deputy “had lied under oath to obstruct investigations into further wrongdoing.”
The sheriff’s heavy-handed approach to undocumented immigrants at one point made him a hugely popular figure who sailed through re-election with two-thirds of the vote, but as demographics in his county have changed, his popularity has begun a precipitous slide.
As he faces the possible charges for criminal contempt – and a close upcoming general election, Arpaio is seeing a sharp decline in popularity. An independent poll of 348 likely voters gave his opponent, Democrat Paul Penzone, a 3-point lead in the race.
Arpaio’s popularity among residents of Maricopa County has also slipped in more general terms. A May survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP) found that 50 percent of respondents viewed him unfavorably, compared to 44 percent who favored him.
Part of the decline in popularity comes from the changing demographics of Maricopa County, which has taken in some 148,000 people from other states and 53,000 from other countries since 2010, according to the Arizona Republic.
“Whether that actually translates into electoral vulnerability this fall remains to be seen,” the firm that conducted the poll wrote, “but he clearly isn’t exactly a beloved figure with his constituents,” they added.