Whatever water Gov. Mike Beebe is drinking, it clearly isn’t imported at the state capitol.
Beebe’s sky-high approval rating is a stark contrast to the Arkansas Legislature’s, whose collective job performance only impressed 29% of the state’s voters.
In our latest Talk Business-Hendrix College Poll, conducted Thursday April 21, 2011 among 582 statewide voters, the legislature was hammered in its job approval rating and for its construction of the controversial Congressional redistricting plan.
Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job the Arkansas legislature did during its recently completed session?
30% Don’t Know
Q: During the session, the Arkansas General Assembly completed a map to redraw congressional district boundaries. Do you approve or disapprove of that plan?
24% Don’t Know
Dr. Jay Barth, with the Hendrix College Department of Politics and International Relations, helped craft and analyze the poll.
"I think it was a messy session, especially in those closing weeks related to Congressional redistricting. I think there is maybe some frustration – it was not the prettiest series of headlines for the legislature," Barth said.
He also contends that the competition between Democrats and Republicans at the state legislature may be reflected in the lower approval numbers. The state legislature had it most balanced partisan count with Democrats representing 54 seats in the 100-member House and 20 seats in the 35-member State Senate. Republicans represented 45 House seats and 15 Senate seats.
"One of the things that comes with a polarized, divided legislature – it is not unlike what we see in the U.S. Congress – is that people certainly don’t want their voice shut out, but they become frustrated at an overly partisan legislative body. For the first time in the Arkansas legislature’s history, we really saw partisanship begin to trump other forces that have mattered a lot before like geography," Barth said.
The survey also asked voters who they thought was in control of state government.
Q: Who do you think is in control of the Arkansas Legislature? That is – which political party do you think is in control of state government – the Republican Party or the Democratic Party?
55% Democratic Party
26% Republican Party
19% Don’t Know
Nearly two years ago, a Talk Business Poll asked the same question to a statewide voter audience. At the time, 68% said they felt the Democrats were in charge versus 11% who said Republicans were in control.
So does Democratic control of the state legislature translate to blame for the General Assembly’s low job approval numbers? Barth doesn’t think so.
"I think the question was very much directed over the last few months and what the performance has been," said Barth. "It’s also a test of political knowledge. Do Arkansans really know who their elected officials are? Clearly, Republicans have more influence than they did two or three years ago."
Barth’s complete interview from this week’s edition of Talk Business can be seen in the video below.
This poll was conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/- 4.1%, was completed using IVR survey technology on Thursday, April 21, 2011 among 582 registered Arkansas voters statewide. Congressional Districts were represented by 25% per district. You can access the full poll at this link.
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.