Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe still enjoys immense support from Arkansas voters despite a recent confrontational budget battle with Republicans and an increasingly partisan tone at the state capitol.
The latest Talk Business-Hendrix College Poll, conducted Monday, March 26, 2012, asked questions of 759 likely Arkansas voters regarding Gov. Beebe’s and the Arkansas Legislature’s job performances.
Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job Gov. Mike Beebe is doing?
64% – Approve
21.5% – Disapprove
14.5% – Don’t Know
Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job the Arkansas legislature did during its recently completed fiscal session?
35% – Approve
33% – Disapprove
32% – Don’t Know
In the question on Beebe, 83% of Democrats approved of his job performance, 66% of self-described Independents supported him, and slightly more than 50% of Republicans polled said Beebe was doing a good job.
In the legislative cross-tab results, Democrats gave the legislature a 41% approval rating compared to a 24% disapproval. 35% of Republican voters approved of the legislature’s performance, while only 33% disapproved. Independent voters were split with 35% approving and 35% disapproving of the legislature’s job in the recent session.
Dr. Jay Barth, with the Hendrix College Department of Politics and International Relations, helped craft and analyze the poll.
“In terms of approval of Governor Beebe, it is same-song, fifteenth verse. The incredibly strong approval ratings throughout his governorship continue to show themselves,” said Barth. “Indeed, he is slightly more positively viewed by the public than a year ago. His popularity shows itself across subgroups of the population with even a majority of Republicans approving of his performance.”
Barth said state lawmakers’ job rating, while mediocre, is better than it was a year ago when only 29% of voters approved of their work, while 41% disapproved.
“The legislature’s numbers are slightly improved from a year ago when the General Assembly had a messy session that included fractiousness over redistricting and the budget,” Barth said. “Still, especially in contrast to the governor, Arkansans think less of their legislature and a significant percentage of Arkansans aren’t following the work of the General Assembly to have any opinion at all.”
Barth also said Beebe’s popularity with voters will be tested in the upcoming campaign cycle in 2012. While Beebe will not be on the ballot, many of the 135 legislative seats are up for grabs this year due to redistricting.
With slim controlling margins held by Democrats in the House and Senate, Beebe’s political coattails in contested fall elections could influence legislative races.
“The key questions now are whether the Governor’s approval can be transferred to fellow Democrats in this year’s competitive battle for control of the state legislature and how he will use his expansive political capital in the final regular legislative session of his long political career next spring,” said Barth.
POLL BACKGROUND & NOTES
The poll was conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College on Monday, March 26, 2012. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-3.6%, was completed using IVR survey technology among registered Arkansas voters who have voted in at least 2 of the last 4 general elections.