Poll: Plurality supports separating King-Lee holiday

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 399 views 

Although a bill has yet to be filed, a continuing discussion at the state capitol involves separating the Martin Luther King, Jr.-Robert E. Lee holidays – a move supported by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. More Arkansas voters support the separation than oppose it with a little more than one-quarter of the state unsure on the proposal.

A new survey from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College of 440 respondents found the following results:

Q: The Arkansas General Assembly may soon consider legislation to end the current practice of celebrating the birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King, Jr. as a combined state holiday. Do you support or oppose the separation of the Lee and King holidays?

39% Support
33% Oppose
28% Don’t Know

Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, helped craft the latest poll. He offered this analysis of the results.

The issue of separating the Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King, Jr. state holidays — conjoined since the 1980’s — has received a good deal of attention since it was debated during the 2015 state legislative session. On the lead-up to the current session, Governor Asa Hutchinson voiced his support for the shift. While legislation has yet to be introduced, it is expected that the General Assembly will debate the concept once again. Our survey shows that, no matter how much political elites have discussed the issue, a large swath of Arkansas voters have yet to engage on it. More than one-fourth of our sample has no opinion on the topic.

There is plurality support for the move across most demographic and political groups with Democrats (50% support), women (41% support), and African-Americans (46% support) especially supportive. Young voters (those under 30) are disproportionately likely not to have a clear opinion on the topic.

The only subgroup of Arkansans who favor maintaining the status quo on the topic are Republicans with a plurality of 37% opposing the holiday separation while 28% support it (more than one-third are unclear of their views).

This survey was conducted on Tuesday, February 14, 2017. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-4.5%, was completed using IVR survey technology among 440 Arkansas frequent voters statewide.

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

For interviews, contact Talk Business & Politics Roby Brock by email at [email protected] or Dr. Jay Barth by email at [email protected].