Republican cross-winds are swirling at this juncture of the Arkansas election cycle even in traditional Democratic strongholds.

A new Talk Business Poll conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College shows First District Congressional Republican nominee Rick Crawford with a 16-point lead over his Democratic opponent, Chad Causey.

In a survey conducted on Tuesday night, August 17, 2010, Crawford leads Causey 48-32% among 630 likely Arkansas voters in the district. Green Party nominee Ken Adler received 4% of support from those surveyed, while undecided voters stood at 16%.

You can view the full results of the poll and the questions asked at this link.

"This is a truly dramatic result that I believe sets the stage for a very favorable election climate for Republicans in Arkansas.  For Democrats, it is a clear signal that this fall’s election may be the toughest landscape they’ve ever faced in the First," said Talk Business editor Roby Brock.

"As we did in the Second District, this First District poll is a baseline for November.  I expect the political artillery to be heavy in this contest based on each campaign’s resources and the attention this race will draw nationally," Brock added.

Due to the unprecedented nature of these results for a Republican nominee, Talk Business conducted a second field poll in the First District on Thursday, August 19, 2010. While our sample size was slightly smaller – 481 likely voter respondents – the results were identical with Republican Rick Crawford polling at 48% and Democrat Chad Causey at 32%.

Dr. Jay Barth, with the Hendrix College Department of Politics and International Relations, helped craft and analyze the polls. He offered the following observations from the results:

PRO-REPUBLICAN WINDS
This poll shows the breadth and depth of the pro-Republican winds in Arkansas in 2010.  The area covered by CD1 has not elected a Republican to Congress since Reconstruction and a victory here would be extraordinary. Rick Crawford enters the fall campaign with a strong chance of replacing Marion Berry, leading the Congressman’s former chief of staff, Chad Causey, 48-32% with 16% of likely voters undecided and 4% supporting Green Party candidate Ken Adler.

RESOURCE EQUALITY
The decision of national Republicans to invest on Crawford’s behalf with spending in the district, announced this past week, appears not to be an attempt to win a long-shot race but instead seems like a legitimate attempt to win a seat that could create a Republican majority in the House of Representatives.  This is a crucial step because it will lessen the expected resource advantage favoring Causey for the fall campaign.

STILL UNKNOWN & UNDEFINED
It is important to recognize, however, that – despite their similar size – Crawford’s lead is shown to be more fragile than the lead of Republican Tim Griffin in the Second District.  While the electoral winds are blowing in the Republicans’ direction, significantly more voters are undecided in the First District contest.

Large chunks of the electorate are unable to form an opinion of the two candidates. Just at 45% of the electorate lacks an opinion of each candidate. Thus, the fall campaign will be crucial in shaping the final results.

Republicans could be successful in unfavorably tying Chad Causey to his former boss, incumbent Rep. Marion Berry, and to Washington more generally. The recent news about Crawford’s past bankruptcy is indicative of the type of issue that could shape voters’ perceptions of the Republican as they are getting to know him.  

PARTY LOYALTY & INDEPENDENTS
Crawford’s lead results, first, from the fact that Republicans – long in the minority in the district – are more unified behind their nominee. 84% of self-identified Republicans support Crawford, while 73% of Democrats presently support Causey.  In particular, Causey is underperforming with African-American voters in the district.  Second, and even more important, independents are leaning strongly towards the Republican (54-21% with 20% undecided).

POLL BACKGROUND
This poll was conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/- 3.9%, was completed using IVR survey technology on Tuesday, August 17, 2010 among 630 registered Arkansas voters in Congressional District 1 who indicated they were "likely" to vote in the November 2, 2010 general election. 74% of those surveyed have voted in a minimum of 2 of the last 4 general elections. Voters with a less frequent voting history were allowed in the sample to account for younger voters and first-time voters of all ages.

Our weighting assumptions include adjustments for an undersample of minority voters and we have weighted to balance the gender of the district based on 2008 general election returns.

All media outlets are welcome to reprint, reproduce, or rebroadcast information from this poll with proper attribution to Talk Business and Hendrix College.

For interviews, Brock can be reached by email at roby@talkbusiness.net. Barth can be contacted at barth@hendrix.edu.

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