As we enter into our last round of polling before the Nov. 2nd general election, we look at all four Congressional Districts for a snapshot of voter attitudes and comparison for how these races have moved from our baseline polling in August.
“We see some stability in two races for Congress and tightening in two others as we head into the final two weeks of this campaign,” said Talk Business executive editor Roby Brock. “For now, Republicans appear poised to make Arkansas history with key pick-ups, but with tremendous resources on the Democratic side they won’t make those gains without an epic fight.”
The findings of our latest four polls show:
“Clearly, the Causey campaign has cut into Crawford’s lead and appears to be gaining some traction and momentum,” Brock said. “On the flip side, Crawford has to be heartened that he’s weathered a blistering barrage of attacks and remains in the lead. Can Crawford hang on or can Causey move numbers enough between now and November 2nd? There is room for either scenario to play out with 20 percent still undecided.”
“The Second District race has tightened some, but with Griffin still at 50% and undecided voters in small numbers, he’s in a good spot,” said Brock. “Elliott has ratcheted up her attacks on Griffin and he has responded. It will be tough for Elliott to cut into a 12-point advantage in two weeks time.”
“This is a solid Republican district and it shows no signs in this election year of changing its stripes,” said Brock. “I would also note that it appears some Whitaker supporters have moved to an undecided position or to Womack from our last poll.”
“Ross’ conservative messaging, his incumbent connections and his financial advantage seem to be overpowering Rankin’s grassroots efforts to tap into voter anger,” said Brock. “Despite a lot of activity and some partisan hype, this race does not appear to be as competitive as some would hope. Still, I expect the final outcome in this race to be much closer than Ross would prefer.”
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:
We last examined the four Arkansas congressional races (three of them for open seats) in late August. These new results show general stability in all four races, although there has been some closing in the two most closely watched races—for the First and Second Districts.
Rick Crawford maintains a lead in this historically Democratic district. However, his 16-point lead in August has shrunk to 8 points in this current poll. And, Crawford does remain short of the 50% mark. Both candidates have significant pots of money for the stretch run of the campaign and party committees and outside groups are also engaged fully in the race. All signs are that this race will be close until the end, although Crawford is advantaged going into the closing weeks of the race.
Crawford has solid support (81.5%) among Republicans and is also continuing his very strong majority support among independents (56%). Causey is underperforming among Democrats in the district, with 20% of Democratic identifiers still undecided in the race. Causey is also underperforming markedly among African-Americans in the district. Over a third of African-Americans (34.9%) remain undecided in the race and he only leads 39.5%-18.6% with African-Americans, a key component of the Democratic base in the district. Bill Clinton’s visit to the district last week did have promise in helping bring African-Americans back into the fold, a crucial component of a Causey comeback in the race. In addition, a sizable gender gap is developing in the race. While the two candidates are even among women, Crawford leads 44.2%-33.3% among men.
In the race to replace veteran Democratic congressman Vic Snyder, Republican Tim Griffin maintains a solid 12-point lead in the race and just breaks the 50% mark. This does show a drop from Griffin’s 17-point lead in late August.
Griffin continues his strong showing among both Republicans (with 88.1% support) and independents (with 68.8% support). Meanwhile, Elliott still needs to consolidate support among Democrats; she is gaining just under a quarter (74.1%) of Democratic identifiers’ votes.
Unsurprisingly, significant gender and racial gaps are showing themselves in the race where the candidates differ on both counts. Griffin is leading nearly two to one among men (60%-30.3%) while the candidates are close among women (Griffin leads 45.8%-40%). On race, Elliott has consolidated support among African-Americans in the district (she is gaining 84% of African-American voters), while Griffin is gaining 56.8% of the white vote.
Over half the vote in the district comes from traditionally Democratic Pulaski County. Therefore, it’s crucial for any Democratic candidate to dominate in that county. Elliott has opened a small lead in the most populous county (46.1%-43.7%). That lead is not large enough for a successful Democratic candidate. Moreover, outside of Pulaski County, Griffin is running up a large lead (61.7%-23.4%).
Republican Steve Womack continues to dominate the race for John Boozman’s seat in Congress in this reliably Republican district. After a deeply factionalized Republican primary battle, Womack has consolidated Republican support. Our survey shows that 88.1% of Republican voters support Womack. He also leads strongly (with 61.3%) among independents in the district.
As in the other races, a sizable gender gap is showing itself in the Third District. While being held to 50% among women, Womack leads strongly (65.1%) among male voters in the district.
All signs are that the Third District will remain Republican in 2010.
The sole incumbent running for re-election also shows himself to be in solid shape going into the final days of the campaign. Democratic Congressman Mike Ross maintains an 18% lead against GOP nominee Beth Anne Rankin. While this is the same margin that Ross had in our late August poll, he now shows a majority of voters supporting him.
Mike Ross leads across age groups. Moreover, while three in four African-Americans support the incumbent, he also leads 48.7%-36.8 among white voters. A gender gap also shows itself in the Fourth District. Ross leads among both groups, but he gains 53.6% of women’s votes and 45.2% of male voters’ support. Rankin gains 31.7% and 41.2% of those two groups’ votes, respectively.
Finally, Ross is the rare Democrat in Arkansas in 2010 (along with Governor Beebe) who is not losing independent voters. The two Democrats are tied with their GOP counterparts among that group in the Fourth with 41.8%. But, Ross is winning over three-fourths of Democratic voters in what remains a Democratic district.
These polls were conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College. The polls, which have margin of errors ranging from +/- 4.2% to +/-4.7%, were completed using IVR survey technology on Thursday, October 14, 2010 among a random sample of registered Arkansas voters in all four Congressional Districts who indicated they were "likely" to vote in the November 2, 2010 general election.
There has been some weighting of each poll based on different variations from our samples. We did not make any adjustments for party identification, which can be a fluid response unlike age, ethnicity or gender. We note that, on average, these polls had the highest number of self-identified Democrats to date.
Each poll has notes on raw data and weighting specific to each survey, which you read at the following links.
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.