Talk Business Poll: Clinton’s persuasive power limited in Arkansas

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 42 views 

Most Arkansans view former Governor and President Bill Clinton favorably, but his ability to sway their vote is limited, according to the latest Talk Business Poll.

“Several Arkansas Democrats — Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Congressional candidates Chad Causey and Joyce Elliott — have leaned heavily on former Arkansas Governor and U.S. President Bill Clinton to rally support. So what do Arkansans think of Clinton and this tactic?” noted Talk Business in this story. (Talk Business is a content partner with The City Wire.)

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of former President Bill Clinton?
39.4%: Very Favorable
15.5%: Somewhat Favorable (55% Favorable)
17.7%: Somewhat Unfavorable
22.7%: Very Unfavorable (40% Unfavorable)
4.7%: No Opinion

Would Bill Clinton’s support for a candidate make you more likely or less likely to support that candidate?
33%: More Likely
43%: Less Likely
24%: No Effect

The two questions from these polling samples were conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College using interactive voice response (IVR) survey technology on Thursday night, Oct. 14, 2010. The results of the questions have a margin of error of +/- 2.2%.

Dr. Jay Barth, with the Hendrix College Department of Politics and International Relations, helped craft and analyze the latest poll. He offered the following analysis:
• In recent days, Arkansas Democrats have invested heavily in the persuasive powers of native son Bill Clinton to rescue what has been a very tough year for them. Clinton has made two trips to the state — the most recent being this week — and he has been featured in candidates’ advertising, most notably in the television advertising of incumbent U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln. Does Clinton provide hope of saving Arkansas Democrats in 2010?

• Our survey of Arkansas voters shows that Bill Clinton is, indeed, quite popular in his native state. Roughly, 55% of Arkansas voters view Clinton favorably (and nearly 40% very favorably). But personal favorability does not necessarily equate with the power to persuade voters. Less than one-third of Arkansas voters see a Clinton endorsement as making them more likely to support a candidate while a plurality (43%) say that Clinton’s endorsement actually makes them less likely to support a candidate.

• So, while it is clear that President Clinton has clear limitations with voters outside of the Democratic base, the former President may well be one of the only weapons the Democratic party has in in a state where Democrats have had relatively few weapons with which to work in 2010.

• But, in a state with no majority party, independents are the crucial force in determining the outcome of elections. And, Arkansas independents are deeply mixed on the former president (54.7% are in one of the unfavorable categories and 40.8% are in one of the two favorable categories). But, more emphatic (and emphatically negative) is their response to a Clinton endorsement — 55.7% would view a Clinton endorsement negatively and only 15.9% would see it as a positive. Thus, while Clinton may have persuasive power with his own party he may well be turning off larger swaths of the Arkansas electorate.