Originally Published: November 2, 2010 11:15 p.m.
PHOENIX (AP) - A swell of approval from voters who support the state's controversial new immigration law and feel that most illegal immigrants should be deported helped Republican Jan Brewer win the election for Arizona governor on Tuesday, according to an Associated Press analysis of preliminary exit poll results and pre-election polls.
More than three-fourths of people who strongly support the new law favored Brewer over Democratic opponent Terry Goddard.
Goddard won over nine out of 10 voters who strongly oppose the new law and most Latino voters.
Brewer signed the new law in April as she criticized what she called the federal government's inaction on illegal immigration. A judge blocked the law's most controversial portions, such as a requirement that police, while enforcing other laws, question people's immigration status if there is a reasonable suspicion they're in the country illegally.
Critics say the law would lead to rampant racial profiling, while supporters say the state has to do something to fight illegal immigration.
John Sigler, a 42-year-old business consultant who lives in Phoenix, said Brewer got his vote because of the law.
"That solidified it," he said. "It clearly signaled that she's serious about the issue."
He said he supports the new law because he feels that protections have been put in place to avoid racial profiling. "I don't want people to be hurt by any means, but I've traveled in Italy and forgotten my passport, and they wouldn't let me check into a hotel, and that was a hotel," he said.
Sean Bonnette, a 25-year-old social worker living in Phoenix, said he voted for Goddard because of his criticism of the immigration law.
"I don't think (Brewer) had any place to pass that law," he said. "I believe it's unconstitutional - there's no way to enforce that law without racial profiling people. Just saying you're not going to racially profile people doesn't mean you won't."
Bonnette said he thinks Brewer signed the law to boost her popularity. "This thing is what really made her career," he said.
About two-thirds of people who voted for Brewer said the candidate quality that mattered most in their decision was that Brewer understands the needs of the people. More than half who voted for Goddard said they felt he could bring needed change.
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. John McCain bested Democrat Rodney Glassman after winning widespread support, including six in 10 voters who said they were independent, and nine of 10 who described themselves as Republican. Glassman ran strong among voters who support President Barack Obama and feel satisfied about the way the federal government is working.
Most voters who support the tea party movement cast a ballot for McCain, while those opposed to the movement generally voted for Glassman.
Nearly two-thirds of voters who felt the economy was the most important issue facing the country favored McCain. Most who felt that way also voted for Brewer.
With her win, Brewer will serve her first full term as an elected governor. She was the elected secretary of state when she became governor in January 2009. Her predecessor, Democrat Janet Napolitano, resigned to become Homeland Security secretary.
Goddard, a former Phoenix mayor, unsuccessfully ran twice for governor in the early 1990s, losing a 1991 runoff to Republican Fife Symington and a 1994 primary race.
The survey of 2,499 Arizona voters was conducted for AP by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews with 1,799 voters from a random sample of 30 precincts statewide Tuesday; 700 who voted early or absentee were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 22 through Oct. 31. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.