Poll: Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz hold leads in Democratic, GOP Presidential primaries

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,535 views 

With about three weeks until Arkansas’ March 1 primary, Presidential contender Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead over Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders, and Ted Cruz has a slight lead in a crowded GOP field.

New polling from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College highlights voter attitudes among likely Democratic and Republican voters. The latest poll surveyed 908 likely primary voters – 451 Democrats and 457 Republicans – for the statewide results. The polling was conducted on Thursday, Feb. 4 using IVR technology and has a margin of error of +/-3.3%.

The samples of Republicans and Democrats included frequent primary voters who self-identified as certain (93.5%) or likely (6.5%) to vote in the March 1 election.

Democratic voters were asked:

Q: If the election were today, for which of the following would you vote: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders?

57% Hillary Clinton
25% Bernie Sanders
18% Don’t Know

Q: We’d like to ask you a few questions about your attitudes toward several individuals in public life. What are your feelings toward Bill Clinton?

60% Very Positive
13% Somewhat Positive
9% Neutral
4% Somewhat Negative
11% Very Negative
3% Don’t Know

Q: What are your feelings toward President Barack Obama?

45.5% Very Positive
16% Somewhat Positive
8% Neutral
4% Somewhat Negative
23.5% Very Negative
3% Don’t Know

Republican voters were asked:

Q: A number of Republican candidates are on the ballot for U.S. President in Arkansas. If the election were today, for which of the following would you vote: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christie, and Carly Fiorina?

11% Ben Carson
27% Ted Cruz
4% John Kasich
23% Marco Rubio
23% Donald Trump
1% Jeb Bush
1% Gov. Chris Christie
4% Carly Fiorina
6% Don’t Know

Q: We’d like to ask you a few questions about your attitudes toward several individuals in public life. What are your feelings toward Mike Huckabee?

39% Very Positive
29% Somewhat Positive
17% Neutral
9.5% Somewhat Negative
5%   Very Negative
0.5% Don’t Know

Q: What are your feelings toward Governor Asa Hutchinson?

44% Very Positive
30% Somewhat Positive
17% Neutral
6% Somewhat Negative
1% Very Negative
2% Don’t Know

“There is clearly some three-way drama in the GOP Presidential field in Arkansas, but the Democratic primary looks like a certain victory for Hillary Clinton,” said Roby Brock, Editor-in-Chief of Talk Business & Politics. “That said, it is interesting to note that the undecided vote in the Democratic primary (18%) is three times larger than the GOP primary (6%).”

Columnist John Brummett was a guest on Talk Business & Politics this week and offered his thoughts on the latest polling data. You can view his interview at the bottom of this post.

Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, helped construct and analyze the survey. He offered his opinion on the results:

GOP Presidential

Several weeks away from the March 1 Arkansas primary, the Arkansas Republican party electorate looks remarkably like that which turned out for the Iowa caucus last week. Texas Senator Ted Cruz leads the pack with 27% of the vote and Florida Senator Marco Rubio and businessman Donald Trump are just behind at 23%. (Notably, this survey occurred just after Trump’s visit to Little Rock on Wednesday of this past week.) The only other candidate in double digits is political neophyte Ben Carson at 11%.

Although other candidates on the Arkansas ballot will likely leave the race before March 1, the three leaders should remain active and Arkansas appears on course for a close race — one likely impacted by the outcomes of the other contests between now and then. As expected, Cruz and Carson do run slightly better with evangelical voters (nearly 8 in 10 Arkansas GOP primary voters consider themselves evangelicals), while Trump and Rubio run better with non-evangelicals. Also in step with results in Iowa and other national polling, Cruz and Trump run better with male voters while Rubio (and to a lesser extent Carson) run well with female GOP voters.

Democratic Presidential, Approval Ratings

In 2008, Arkansas was one of the strongest states for Hillary Clinton — the former First Lady of the state — during her long nomination contest with Barack Obama. Clinton won just at 70% of the vote in the March 2008 primary. Our polling suggests that Clinton is likely on track for a similar performance in the state in 2016. In a contest against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton performs particularly strongly with older voters, African-Americans, and women in the state. These are all patterns shown in national polling in the race. Although not as strong as in other states, Sanders does perform well with younger groups of voters.

Two individuals whom Clinton has consciously attached herself to — her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and her former boss, President Barack Obama — are also extremely popular with Arkansas Democratic voters. Nearly three-fourths of Arkansas Democratic primary voters have either very positive (60%) or somewhat positive (13%) views of Bill Clinton and more than 60% of those voters feel the same level of enthusiasm for Obama — despite his persistent unpopularity in Arkansas. (Both men have over 85% approval ratings with Democratic African-American voters). This data suggests that Bill Clinton remains an effective surrogate for his wife in the state and her connections to the current President are a major net plus for her.

GOP Approval Ratings

We examined the attitudes among GOP primary voters of two key public figures who have yet to endorse any of the current field of Republicans to gauge the potential impact of such an endorsement on primary voters. Former Governor Mike Huckabee was in the race for President until last Monday when a poor performance in the Iowa primary pushed him from the race. Current Governor Asa Hutchinson was Huckabee’s Arkansas state chair. Both Huckabee and Hutchinson — the only two living Republican governors of the modern era – are exceptionally popular with GOP primary voters.

Non-evangelical voters are more lukewarm towards Huckabee, but over 80% of Arkansas evangelical GOPers are either very (58%) or somewhat (24%) positive towards Huckabee. Hutchinson runs well across all key groups of GOP voters. With all signs that the Arkansas GOP primary could end up being a very close contest, the support of either — or both — of these men could help nudge someone across the finish line.



Age (weighted)

12% Under the age of 30
24% Between the ages of 30 and 44
39% Between the ages of 45 and 64
25% 65 or older


14.5% African American
1% Asian American
80% Caucasian or White
2% Latino
2.5% Other

Gender (weighted)

45% Male
55% Female


Do you consider yourself an evangelical Christian?

79% Yes
21% No

Age (weighted)

12% Under the age of 30
24% Between the ages of 30 and 44
39% Between the ages of 45 and 64
25% 65 or older


2% African American
0% Asian American
95% Caucasian or White
1% Latino
2% Other

Gender (weighted)

48% Male
52% Female