Fourth District Democratic Cong. Mike Ross enjoys an 18-point lead over his Republican challenger, Beth Anne Rankin, despite a tumultuous election cycle that has presented problems for incumbents and Democrats as a whole.
In a survey conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College over two nights, Aug. 25-26, Ross leads Rankin 49-31% among 956 likely district voters. Green Party candidate Joshua Drake earned 4% of support from those surveyed, while undecided voters stood at 16%. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.
You can view the full results of the baseline poll and the questions asked at this link.
"With an 18-point lead, Cong. Mike Ross appears to be surviving the tide of anti-incumbent fever that is swirling in Arkansas politics this cycle, although hovering around 50% and not higher is a sign of just how challenging it is for incumbents right now," said Talk Business executive editor Roby Brock.
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 fact that Cong. Ross, a well-funded incumbent, is shown to be just under 50% is a sign of the anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, and anti-Democratic environment. Still, Ross seems to have weathered things pretty well.
- He remains personally popular (approval = 53%) in this historically Democratic district. Ross has aggressively separated himself from Washington over the past year in his votes on key issues like health care and in his comments. The Congressman has also begun running radio advertising in the district highlighting his commitment to the district instead of his party.
- Beth Anne Rankin, Ross’s Republican opponent, remains unknown by many residents of the district (no opinion = 39%). Her ability to raise the funds necessary to introduce herself to voters via advertising is crucial to her ability to close this gap.
- While Ross is running well across key demographic groups, there is an interesting gender gap developing in the race – and not in the intuitive direction. A slight majority of women (50%) favor the Democrat in our poll with Rankin polling only 28% of them. However, Rankin wins a plurality of men (43-39%). This results in a 13-point gender gap in the race.
For more commentary on this latest poll and additional analysis of Arkansas politics, check out Barth’s interview from this week’s edition of Talk Business below.
This poll was conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%, was completed using IVR survey technology on August 25-26 among 956 registered Arkansas voters in Congressional District 4 who indicated they were "likely" to vote in the November 2, 2010 general election. 82% 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.
The poll was weighted by race and gender.
Compared to past elections in Arkansas, a disproportionate percentage of voters in this survey are over the age of 65 and a smaller than normal percentage are under 30. Evidence from around the country suggests that younger voters remain disengaged in Election 2010 at this point. However, in future polls, we will track this issue and, when appropriate, will weight surveys to better track expected vote turnout by age.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Barth can be contacted at email@example.com.