Poll: Sen. Cotton Job Approval Slips, Gov. Hutchinson Highly Popular

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 133 views 

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton has seen his job approval numbers slip, but Gov. Asa Hutchinson remains extremely popular, according to new polling data from Talk Business & Politics, Hendrix College and Impact Management Group.

In the latest poll commissioned by the three groups, 1,183 likely Arkansas voters weighed in on job approval ratings of state and national elected officials, including Cotton, Hutchinson, Sen. John Boozman and President Barack Obama.

The survey was conducted from June 8-11, 2015 among 1,183 likely Arkansas voters. Respondents were surveyed by automated phone calls (80%) and online polling (20%). The poll has a margin of error of 1.84%.

Voters were asked:

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job Gov. Asa Hutchinson is doing?

Approve 52%
Disapprove 18%
Don’t Know 29%

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job U.S. Senator Tom Cotton is doing?

Approve 44%
Disapprove 39%
Don’t Know 17%

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job U.S. Senator John Boozman is doing?

Approve 42%
Disapprove 21%
Don’t Know 37%

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Barack Obama is doing?

Approve 33%
Disapprove 63%
Don’t Know 5%

In February, TB&P released polling that showed Hutchinson with a 52-12% approval rating, while Cotton was 50-30% approve. In the same February poll, Boozman held a 40-22% approval rating, and Obama was 26-70% disapprove.

On Sunday’s TV edition of Talk Business & Politics, which airs on KATV Ch. 7 at 9 a.m., more polling data will be released including voter attitudes on Hillary Clinton and Mike Huckabee – two Presidential candidates with significant Arkansas ties.

ANALYSIS
Clint Reed, partner with Impact Management Group who helped construct and analyze the poll, said:

These numbers are all generally consistent with our tracking of the state’s key public officials.

Governor Asa Hutchinson continues to show high marks as more than one-half (52%) of Arkansans approve of his job performance through his first full legislative session and a subsequent special session. Fifty-percent (50%) of independent voters approve of Hutchinson’s job performance while only 18% disapprove. Furthermore, as many Democrats approve of Governor Hutchinson’s job performance (33%) as disapprove (34%). Only 5% of Republicans disapprove so far. I think it’s safe to say that his executive style is resonating very well with Arkansans.

Senator Tom Cotton’s job approval numbers dropped somewhat (-6) from our February survey while his disapproval numbers increased (+9). Senator Cotton has taken some strong leadership positions on foreign policy issues often times disagreeing with his own party leadership. He campaigned that he was going to Washington D.C. to help solve big problems, and he is spending some of his earned political capital in these debates. One interesting variable worth tracking will be his approval among independent voters. In our February survey, Cotton held an almost 2-to-1 advantage among independents, whereas in this survey he is at parity (39% approve, 41% disapprove).

Senator Boozman receives consistent approval numbers from Arkansas voters. Forty-two percent (42%) approve of his job performance while 21% disapprove. This, again, is consistent with our February data where 40% approved and 22% disapproved. He still holds a 2-to-1 advantage among independent voters – the key swing voter block. Boozman’s approval trends show a significant percentage of “don’t know,” which is attributable to his quiet, unassuming style. I would expect these numbers to gradually change as Boozman becomes more aggressive on the campaign trail in his re-election bid.

Some might say that President Barack Obama’s approval numbers are approaching a high water mark (33% approve); however, they are still very bad (64% disapprove). Self-identified Democrats, black voters, and voters less than 30 years of age are the only subgroups to give him a higher approval rating than disapproval. Nearly one out of every four (23%) Democrats — members of his own party – disapprove of the job he is doing.

Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, who also helped construct and analyze the poll, offered this analysis:

In our survey, we tested the current job approval of four elected officials: President Obama, U.S. Senators Tom Cotton and John Boozman, and Governor Asa Hutchinson.

While President Obama has had a small uptick in his national approval ratings in recent months, his standing in Arkansas remains thoroughly problematic — as it has throughout his presidency. The one-third of Arkansans who approve of the President’s job performance are disproportionately young (those under 30 approve of the President’s job performance 46%-39%); Democratic (who approve of his work 73%-23%), and African-American (70%-22% approval).

It is a tale of two Senators in examining the ratings of U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton. While Boozman has been a figure in Arkansas politics longer, he remains a decidedly low-key and unknown political figure. Nearly four in ten Arkansans have no clear opinion on the performance of their senior Senator. Those who do know enough to evaluate break two-to-one (42%-21%) in his favor.

Cotton is much better known and emphatically more polarizing. Demographically, younger voters (55% of those under 30 disapprove of his performance) and African-Americans (75% disapprove; 8% approve) go against the Senator, while pluralities or majorities of all other groups approve. Geographically, Cotton has particular challenges in the Little Rock area, being on the wrong end of the evaluation of 2nd District voters 44%-40%. And, the partisan divide on Cotton is immense; 75% of Democrats disapprove while 81% of Republicans approve; Independents split evenly on Cotton which is a problematic status for contemporary Arkansas Republicans.

Finally, Governor Asa Hutchinson exhibits quite solid job approval numbers with a healthy majority (52%) of Arkansans approving of his work to date and only 18% disapproving. He is performing solidly with every demographic, geographic, and political group at present. Even Arkansas Democrats split 34%-33% in his favor with the final third undecided on his work. While his approval numbers lag a bit behind his predecessor, it is mainly because of a higher “don’t know” number. The overall trends look remarkably like those of Mike Beebe, however.

METHODOLOGY
The survey was conducted from June 8-11, 2015 among 1,183 likely Arkansas voters. Respondents were surveyed by automated phone calls (80%) and online polling (20%).

The poll has a margin of error of 1.84%.

All media outlets are welcome to reprint, reproduce, or rebroadcast information from this poll with proper attribution to Talk Business & Politics, Hendrix College and Impact Management Group.

For interviews, contact Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock by email at roby@talkbusiness.net, Dr. Jay Barth by email at barth@hendrix.edu, or Clint Reed at creed@impactmanagement.com.

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