A new poll shows former Cong. Mike Ross with a sizable lead over former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and highway commissioner John Burkhalter among Democratic primary voters in the 2014 Arkansas Governor’s race.

In a three-way Democratic primary race, Ross pulled 45% support to Halter’s 27% and Burkhalter’s 7%. Undecided voters accounted for 22% of those polled.

The poll, conducted by Washington, D.C.-based Chism Strategies, surveyed 817 self-identified Democratic primary voters across Arkansas. It was taken Monday, March 18, 2013 using IVR technology and has a margin of error of +/-3.35%.

Talk Business Arkansas was provided a copy of the full poll from a corporate client in Arkansas with an interest in the Democratic primary match-up, but with no ties to any of the announced or possible Democratic or Republican candidates considering a run for Governor.

After asking whether or not voters planned to vote in the 2014 Democratic primary, a battery of questions gauged favorable/unfavorable ratings and head-to-head match-ups for Burkhalter, Halter and Ross.

What is your opinion of former Cong. Mike Ross?

29% Very favorable
31% Somewhat favorable (60% overall favorable)
12% Somewhat unfavorable
9% Very unfavorable (21% overall unfavorable)
18% Unable to rate

What is your opinion of former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter?

20% Very favorable
28% Somewhat favorable (48% overall favorable)
18% Somewhat unfavorable
17% Very unfavorable (35% overall unfavorable)
17% Unable to rate

What is your opinion of Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter?

2% Very favorable
14% Somewhat favorable (16% overall favorable)
15% Somewhat unfavorable
11% Very unfavorable (26% overall unfavorable)
59% Unable to rate

How satisfied would you be if Bill Halter were the only Democratic candidate for Governor?

24% Very satisfied
29% Somewhat satisfied (53% overall satisfied)
15% Somewhat unsatisfied
22% Very unsatisfied (37% overall unsatisfied)
10% Unable to rate

If the only candidates were Halter and Ross, who would you support?

38% Definitely support Ross
12% Likely support Ross (50% overall support)
17% Definitely support Halter
7% Likely support Halter (24% overall support)
26% Undecided

If the candidates were Halter, Ross and Burkhalter, who would you support?

34% Definitely support Ross
11% Likely support Ross (45% overall support)
19% Definitely support Halter
8% Likely support Halter (27% overall support)
5% Definitely support Burkhalter
2% Likely support Burkhalter (7% overall support)
22% Undecided

UPDATE: Halter spokesman Bud Jackson disputed the poll results and offered this comment:

“These numbers are just plain silly and are no where near what our internals show,” he said.  “Of course, our numbers were done by a legitimate pollster. This ‘poll’ was done by a firm that doesn’t even represent itself as being pollsters and it was paid for by a business that chooses to hide in the shadows.”

Brad Chism, lead principal of Chism Strategies, is a veteran of the polling and direct voter contact political business. His well-established Democratic polling firm Zata|3 won numerous awards over the years. In December 2012, Chism separated from Zata|3 to launch his new endeavor.  Halter previously used Zata|3 in his Lt. Governor campaign in 2006.

This weekend, Ross told the Associated Press that he was re-considering a challenge for Governor after Attorney General Dustin McDaniel bowed out of the race.

A recent Talk Business-Hendrix College survey taken in late February showed Ross faring better than Halter in a general election match-up against Republican Asa Hutchinson.

Neither John Burkhalter nor announced GOP candidate Curtis Coleman were included in that polling.

The Talk Business-Hendrix College survey of 675 general election voters showed Hutchinson ahead of Halter 47-31% with 22% undecided. The poll showed Hutchinson leading Ross 43-38% with 19% undecided.

An interview with Halter can be seen at this link.  Coleman was a guest on Talk Business Arkansas’ daily webcast on Wednesday.  Hutchinson will appear on Talk Business this Sunday night at 10pm on Fox 16.


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