Our latest Talk Business Poll is likely to get the water cooler talk started about this fall’s general election match-ups for U.S. Senate and Arkansas Governor.
In a poll conducted on Saturday, July 17 among 793 likely Arkansas voters, our polling firm, Washington, D.C.-based Zata 3, found the following results:
John Boozman (R) 57%
Blanche Lincoln (D) 32%
Trevor Drown (I) 3%
John Gray (G) 2%
This race won’t finish where it stands today as I’ve said in previous discussions of this match-up; however, several observations stand out.
First, Boozman has a strong lead in this race if for no other reason but for the anti-incumbent, anti-Lincoln sentiment that exists in the state’s current political landscape. Lincoln is coming off a bruising primary election in which she only earned 52% of the Democratic vote. Boozman had an easier time even in a crowded field of GOP challengers. There were few real heated or nasty exchanges in that primary versus the hard-hitting, heavyweight fight between Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.
Lincoln’s fundraising advantage – $1.9 million to Boozman’s $484,000 – is a good step for her to make this race more competitive, but she will also have to find ways to define Boozman negatively, something we’ve seen signs of in recent weeks.
Secondly, third party candidates do not seem to have much appeal as an alternative in this race. It is a logical assumption that Boozman is benefiting significantly as the more viable alternative to Lincoln.
Third, the election atmosphere is favorable for Republicans or against Democrats, however you want to spin that.
Mike Beebe (D) 49.5%
Jim Keet (R) 40.5%
The results from this poll will no doubt enthuse the campaign of GOP nominee Jim Keet. It shows that despite Gov. Mike Beebe’s high job approval rating, it does not translate into job security with voters. I made this point in the Arkansas Election Line analysis a few weeks ago.
Although not in our poll, one has to wonder if there is a growing political environment favorable to Republicans that is rubbing off on state races. There could also be some drag on Beebe’s numbers from the controversy that has been on the front page of the state newspaper for the past two weeks involving taxpayer-financed SUVs for constitutional officers. Without polling, its speculation.
We’ll see if this race tightens or widens in the coming months. Beebe’s massive fundraising advantage – $2.7 million to Keet’s $59,000 as of June 30 – is going to quickly put more distance between the two candidates unless other circumstances surface.
To critics, who were abundant in our primary polling with Zata 3, I remind you that we predicted accurately that Boozman was in a position to win the 8-person GOP primary without a run-off, which he did. We were also the first poll that showed conservative Democrat D.C. Morrison with a double-digit standing in the Democratic primary. He finished with 12% of the primary vote statewide.
The poll we release today from Saturday is similar to a poll we conducted on Thursday, July 15, 2010. When parsing through the initial results of the earlier poll, I asked for a second poll to be conducted with the same universe of likely voters to make certain that these results could be substantiated. I stand by that decision and these results.
You can read the full poll and methodology at this link or click here to read a breakdown by question. Note that our pollster urges caution in drawing major conclusions from the cross-tabs; more polling data would be valuable to make further observations.
UPDATE: You can catch my analysis of these poll results from my appearance on our content partner, Fox 16 News, at this link. Anchor Donna Terrell and I offer a 3-minute Q&A.