A new Talk Business Poll conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College shows Second District Congressional Republican nominee Tim Griffin with a 17-point lead over his Democratic opponent, Joyce Elliott.
In a survey conducted on Tuesday night, August 17, 2010, Griffin leads Elliott 52-35% among likely voters. Independent candidate Lance Levi polled at 3%, while Green Party nominee Lewis Kennedy received 1% of support from those surveyed. Undecided voters accounted for 9%.
You can view the full results of the poll and the questions asked at this link.
"This poll is merely intended to be a baseline as we head into the fall," said Talk Business editor Roby Brock. "As the dynamics of this race alter with paid media from the candidates and outside groups, I expect this race to make a lot of headlines and we’ll certainly track it closely through future polling."
Dr. Jay Barth, with the Hendrix College Department of Politics and International Relations, helped craft and analyze the poll. He offered the following observations from the results:
The horserace numbers (52-35% Griffin with 1-3-9% for Kennedy, Levi, and Undecided respectively) indicate, first, the national winds blowing against the Democrats that have intensified this summer. They also show a shift against Democrats in Arkansas that has been underway since 2008.
"The numbers in this poll are not that different from 54-44% McCain-Obama margin in 2008 in the Second District," said Barth.
While the two non-major party candidates don’t presently show themselves to be a factor, in this environment where both national parties are so negatively seen, a true independent does gain 3% of the vote despite little name recognition.
"Levi could become the ‘none of the above’ candidate as the race becomes negative although all indications are that he could only play the role of a ‘spoiler’ in the race," Barth said.
PARTY LOYALTY & INDEPENDENT VOTERS
Over 90% of Republicans are already committed to Griffin despite facing an aggressive primary opponent. On the other hand, Elliott still needs to bring some Democrats home with nearly 30% saying that they are leaning towards Griffin, the third party candidates or undecided.
“Most damaging for Elliott, and reflecting trends seen elsewhere, independents are skewing heavily towards the Republican at this point in the game. Independents at this point favor Griffin 67% to 20%,” Barth said.
While some races are driven primarily by voters’ reactions to the two parties, the Second District race does not appear to be completely such a “generic” party line race.
About three-fourths of voters in the Second District have a clear opinion of each of the two candidates who have been fairly visible in the Little Rock media market for several years. And, while Griffin is viewed favorably by a majority of the likely voters (53-21%), Elliott is viewed unfavorably by a plurality (45-32%).
Barth suggests that Elliott will have to use her political communications to pull down Griffin’s favorables. The danger: it’s hard to go negative without harming oneself.
“And, research in recent decades indicates that it is particularly dangerous for a female candidate to go negative because such behavior is perceived as not being ‘ladylike.’ While this is clearly unfair to female candidates, it’s a real dilemma,” said Barth.
He suggested that we may see the use of surrogates to make the charges against Griffin and/or the use of humorous advertising.
Geography has to be the most encouraging piece of news in the poll for the Griffin campaign. The perception has long been that Elliott will run up a large margin in Pulaski County, but this poll indicates that Griffin has a lead across the eight counties including in Pulaski. While Elliott clearly is doing better in Pulaski County than outside of it, Griffin even shows a lead there (he’s just at 50%).
“Based on President Obama’s victory in Pulaski County in 2008 by over 18,000 votes, it’s clear that Elliott can close the gap in the race by bringing home the Democratic base county. But, that will involve a lot of work at a time her campaign also must focus on holding down the margins in the seven outlying counties,” Barth noted.
This poll was conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/- 3.7%, was completed using IVR survey technology on Tuesday, August 17, 2010 among 716 registered Arkansas voters in Congressional District 2 who indicated they were "likely" to vote in the November 2, 2010 general election. 76% 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.
Our weighting assumptions include adjustments for an undersample of minority voters and we have weighted to balance the geography 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 email@example.com. Barth can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.