Gov. Mike Beebe (D) remains enormously popular among Arkansas voters, an advantage he holds over many of his state counterparts and a potential edge over a less-than popular state legislature.
In our latest Talk Business-Hendrix College Poll, 659 Arkansas voters were asked to rank Beebe’s job performance as well as the 88th General Assembly.
Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job Gov. Mike Beebe is doing?
19% Don’t Know
Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job the Arkansas legislature is doing?
36% Don’t Know
The last time Talk Business polled the state legislature’s job performance was in July 2009 after the conclusion of the regular session. In that poll of 600 Arkansas voters, 58% approved of legislators’ efforts, while 31% disapproved and 11% were undecided.
Dr. Jay Barth, with the Hendrix College Department of Politics and International Relations, helped craft and analyze the poll.
"In many ways, we shouldn’t be too surprised by the results for the legislature. Going back to the 2010 election cycle, we’ve seen a lot of animosity towards government in general expressed by voters," Barth said. "The legislature hasn’t gotten much accomplished in this session. They’ve really dealt with a number of hot-button issues until the last couple of weeks and most of those have died in committee and so the result has been a pretty ineffectual legislature."
Roby Brock, editor of Talk Business, said the poll results could prove interesting if Beebe and the legislature enter a more combative relationship in the waning weeks of the session over high-profile issues, such as prison reform, tax cuts or the state budget.
"Beebe not only has a bigger bully pulpit, but his familiarity and trust with voters is significantly more positive than the legislature’s. If there is any potential showdown – which is doubtful, but possible – Beebe would start with a strong advantage in the realm of public opinion," Brock said.
Barth added, "I think we need to think of Beebe’s enormous popularity, not just compared to the legislature, but really compared to governors elsewhere around the country."
Beebe’s job approval high marks transcended party lines, gender and age categories, he said. "The Governor is not seen as an ideologue. He’s really seen as a manager, as someone who really manages government effectively," Barth said.
This poll was conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/- 3.8%, was completed using IVR survey technology on Monday, February 28, 2011 among 659 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.