Beebe Approval High, But Endorsement Coattails May Lag

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 15 views 

Gov. Mike Beebe’s job approval ratings remain strong, but the Governor’s popularity may not translate far down the ballot in this November’s elections.

In the most recent Talk Business-Hendrix College Poll, conducted Thursday, Oct. 18 among 868 likely Arkansas voters, Beebe has a more than 3-to-1 approval rating for his job performance.

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Gov. Mike Beebe is doing?

64.5%      Approve
18.5%      Disapprove
17%         Don’t Know

With Beebe’s steady and soaring popularity, Democrats have been utilizing the Governor in nearly every competitive legislative race this fall as they fight to maintain slim majorities in the Arkansas House and Senate.

Beebe has been fundraising and stumping for Democratic candidates and he has taken to the airwaves to remind voters that Arkansas has seen economic improvements during his tenure. He has also been linked repeatedly with Democratic legislative candidates in mailers and other forms of voter contact and contributed nearly $1 million in excess campaign funds to the Democratic party coffers after his 2010 landslide re-election.

But the latest polling data suggests that Beebe’s coattails may be limited. When asked if Beebe’s endorsement would positively influence a vote for a legislative candidate, less than one-third said it would be persuasive and nearly half said it would not.

Q. Would Gov. Beebe’s endorsement of a legislative candidate influence your vote in a positive way?

29%     Yes
48%     No
23%     Don’t know

The results do show that Democrats are inclined to be persuaded by Beebe’s endorsement. About 46.5% said his endorsement would influence them, while 28.5% said it would not and 25% said they did not know.

Republican voters, who have been supportive of Beebe, said his endorsement would not persuade their legislative choice by a 63-19% margin. About 18% were undecided regarding a Beebe endorsement.

Among the all-important swing voters who declared themselves as Independents, 53% said Beebe’s endorsement would not persuade them, while 25% said it would and 22% said they were unsure.

Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, helped craft and analyze the poll.

Barth said, “Beebe’s numbers suggest that Arkansans are resistant to endorsements having much power even when that endorsement comes from a Governor who has maintained such incredibly high approval ratings across time. Clearly, the Governor has been very visible on TV airwaves in ads this season, but it’s also fair to say he’s been playing more defense than offense in those ads.”

Republican-leaning blogger Jason Tolbert of Talk Business said, “These numbers show that the coordinated campaign from the Democratic Party of Arkansas is erroneously betting on the popularity of Gov. Beebe. With President Obama leading the Democratic ballot this year and not Gov. Beebe, there will be a considerable lack of coattails for down-the-ballot candidates. As much as the Governor may try to fight it, he can do little to stop the tidal wave of red that is expected to sweep through the state capitol this November.”

Democratic-leaning blogger Michael Cook of Talk Business said, “The results are not surprising since just about every poll I’ve ever seen that asked an endorsement question had numbers very similar to this one. However, in other released polls, when you ask voters if they want a candidate who would work with Beebe or oppose him, the overwhelming majority of Arkansans want candidates who will work with Governor Beebe on advancing his agenda.  Legislative Democratic candidates are doing more than just tying themselves personally to Gov. Beebe, they’re making a strong case that they plan to work with Beebe to keep moving Arkansas forward.”

“When plainly asked, voters do not seem persuaded to vote for a Beebe-endorsed candidate,” said Roby Brock, executive editor of Talk Business. “We’ll have to see if the Democrats’ message of supporting Beebe’s agenda will overcome the national riptide of Republicanism that is taking place in Arkansas.”

This survey was conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College on Thursday, October 18, 2012. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-3.3%, was completed using IVR survey technology among 868 likely Arkansas voters statewide.

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, contact Talk Business executive editor Roby Brock by email at