Gov. Hutchinson gets 59% approval rating, Obama has a 59% unfavorable rating

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 68 views 

In a new round of polling, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) retains his popularity, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., remains controversial, and a potential high-profile Senate match-up appears under the radar.

The newest Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College/Impact Management Group survey of 400 Arkansas voters was conducted among live callers on Aug. 20-23, 2015. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-4.99%, captured attitudes of respondents by cell phone (33%) and landlines (67%).

Voters were asked if they had heard of the following candidates: Gov. Asa Hutchinson, President Barack Obama, Sen. Tom Cotton, Sen. John Boozman, and former U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge. If recognized, respondents were allowed to answer questions about the favorable and unfavorable opinions of them.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R)
Name recognition 83%
Favorable 59%
Unfavorable 21%

U.S. President Barack Obama (D)
Name recognition 97%
Favorable 38%
Unfavorable 59%

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
Name recognition 82%
Favorable 45%
Unfavorable 34%

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.
Name recognition 60%
Favorable 37%
Unfavorable 18%

Conner Eldridge
Name recognition 20%
Favorable 7%
Unfavorable 4%

Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, helped construct and analyze the poll results. He offered the following commentary:

While the focus of the survey was Arkansans’ stances on medical and recreational marijuana legalization, the poll also gave us the opportunity to, once again, gauge the state’s voters’ attitudes towards key political figures. Specifically, we asked about the favorability towards President Obama, Governor Hutchinson, the state’s two United States Senators, and a former U.S. prosecutor looking at a possible race against one of those Senators.

For the four figures whom we also tested in early April, their favorability/unfavorability ratings remain almost identical in the current survey. Despite the late spring and summer being a remarkably active period in political news — both in Washington and Little Rock — the events seem to have had little impact on Arkansans’ views of their key elected officials.

As has been the case across his Presidency, President Obama remains deeply unpopular with the majority (59%) of Arkansas voters; 38% rate him either as “very” (19%) or “somewhat” (19%) favorably. Majorities of Democrats, liberals, African-Americans, 2nd Congressional District voters, and voters under the age of 30 perceive Obama favorably, but all other demographic, political, and geographic groups are negative toward the President.

Also consistent is the relative strong showing of Governor Hutchinson. While strong overall, Hutchinson is strongest with those groups with whom Obama performs most weakly and vice versa. Hutchinson, however, is performing relatively strongly with the state’s African-American voters; a plurality (48%) place the Governor in one of the favorable categories.

As has consistently been shown across the year, U.S. Senator Tom Cotton is quite well-known and deeply polarizing while the other senator, John Boozman, remains a mysterious figure to the state’s voters. While a plurality of the state’s voters (45%) do rate Cotton either “very” or “somewhat” favorably, opposition to the U.S. Senator is strong across key subgroups of voters; for an Arkansas Republican, he is quite weak with Independent voters. Perhaps most interesting are the geographical patterns shown on Cotton. While overwhelmingly popular in the 4th Congressional District that he represented in the U.S. House (59% favorable), his ratings are more tepid in the 1st and reliably Republican 3rd Districts and quite weak in the 2nd Congressional District (54% unfavorable).

In contrast, just at 40% of Arkansas voters don’t know enough about their senior U.S. Senator Boozman to rate him. Of those who can, they split two-to-one in a favorable direction, but many Arkansas voters simply can’t identify Boozman despite his lengthy period of public service.

The former U.S. prosecutor from the Western District of the State, Conner Eldridge, is looking at a race as a Democrat against Boozman. We also tested his standing. He is very much an unknown quantity, even compared to Boozman, with only 20% of voters being able to rate Eldridge at all and half totally neutral him. Thus, while there is an opening created by Boozman’s lack of public impression, Eldridge has a tough road if he does decide to make the race.