Conor Friedersdorf at Andrew Sullivan's blog has a number of comments from Arizona readers about why, despite all his nuttiness and outright hostility to civil rights, Joe Arpaio just keeps on getting elected here in Phoenix.
...Arpaio is media-savvy, and picks his enemies well. By this I don't mean his foes in county government or in the media, I mean the groups on whom he concentrates the resources of his office. Last night, as every year about this time, all of the TV stations showed footage from this year's deadbeat dad roundup, along with the smirking Sheriff talking about how terrible it was that kids were going to have a lousy Xmas because these deadbeat dads hadn't been paying child support. He also goes after animal cruelty cases with a vengeance. I think he has a finely-tuned sense of which "others' are particularly viewed with scorn by his target supporters, and goes after them with a vengeance. There is no doubt that many Maricopa county residents feel safer as a result of his policies, but also equally that his policies are never designed to impact negatively those supporters who see themselves as law-abiding (and hence won't ever be in jail), are white (and hence will never be racially profiled), and don't fit into any of the other classes that he has singled out for opprobrium.
On a side topic, one commenter does take this out of context:
But let's not forget we're in a state that effectively voted by referendum NOT to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the 90's
The issue as I remember it was not of honoring Martin Luther King Jr. but of adding another paid holiday for state workers. As I recall, Republicans readily agreed to a state holiday for MLK as long as government workers gave up one somewhere else on the calendar, so it wasn't about MLK per se but about whether government employees should be allowed an extra paid day off.