Poll: Trump popularity unchanged with Arkansas voters, Hutchinson job approval solid

by Roby Brock (roby@talkbusiness.net) 1,644 views 

President Donald Trump’s popularity in Arkansas has not diminished since the November election despite national polling that suggests voter attitude shifts. Meanwhile, Arkansas voters still solidly approve of the job Gov. Asa Hutchinson is doing a little more than halfway through his first term.

In a new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey of 440 frequent Arkansas voters, six out of 10 approve of Trump’s job performance, while more than half give Hutchinson high marks.

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

53% Approve
30% Disapprove
17% Don’t Know

In October 2016, a TBP-Hendrix poll showed Hutchinson with 52% of approval for his handling of the job, while 24% disapproved.

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Donald Trump is doing?

60% Approve
35% Disapprove
5% Don’t Know

Trump won Arkansas’ presidential election with 60.4% in November.

“Arkansas is certainly Trump country,” said TB&P Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock. “Despite three months of near daily controversial headlines, he remains as popular as he did when he carried the state last fall.”

In the latest survey, voters were also asked for their opinions on President Trump’s controversial ban on immigration from seven countries and a large majority support the nation’s chief executive.

Q: Last week, President Trump’s executive order temporarily barring refugees and individuals from seven countries from entering the United States was blocked by a federal circuit court. Do you support or oppose President Trump’s travel ban?

61% Support the Trump travel ban
34% Oppose the Trump travel ban
5% Don’t Know

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

This survey provides us our first opportunity to examine Donald J. Trump’s popularity in Arkansas as President. We know, from his strong performance in Arkansas in November 2016 (he gained just over 60% of the vote), that Trump entered office viewed favorably by Arkansans as a whole. That said, the chaotic first few weeks of the Trump presidency have cost him with voters nationally; recent national surveys have shown Trump’s job approval melting to just below 40%. There is no such evidence of any melt among Arkansans from our survey as Trump’s approval numbers nearly match his performance in November.

There is little variation in Trump’s approval numbers by age or gender. The absence of a gender gap on Trump’s performance is another deviation from national patterns. Unsurprisingly, Trump’s high approval score is driven by white Arkansans (who approve of Trump’s first weeks at a 65% clip); non-white Arkansans are more lukewarm of his performance. Also unsurprising are the partisan patterns in Trump’s approval numbers. Over nine in ten Republicans approve of Trump’s job so far, a plurality of independents (48%) approve of it, and less than a quarter of Democrats give Trump positive marks. It is notable that Trump is performing slightly better among Democrats in Arkansas, compared to single digit numbers nationally.

Arkansans’ attitudes on a signature Trump action — his executive order regarding entry to the country by refugees and individuals from seven mostly Muslim countries — tracks attitudes about Trump almost perfectly. The one exception to this is that younger Arkansans seem decidedly more wary of that policy than they do of Trump’s performance overall.

We also gauged Arkansans’ opinions of Governor Asa Hutchinson, now entering his third year in office. Hutchinson’s standing remains strong with a majority of Arkansans viewing his performance positively. While Hutchinson’s approval numbers remain constant, there has been some uptick in the percentage of the state’s voters who view Hutchinson negatively compared to our last survey (30% versus 24% in October 2016). Still, compared to most elected officials nationally, Hutchinson’s job ratings by the public are more than solid.

There is a strong age correlation in Hutchinson’s approval ratings with those over 65 most enthusiastic and those under 30 most critical of the Republican. For a Republican, Hutchinson does perform quite well with Democrats (42% approve) and with African-Americans (41% approve). His approval ratings with his fellow partisans (72% approve) and with independents (37% approve) are decidedly lower than are President Trump’s, it should be noted. Finally, there is a continued geographical pattern in Hutchinson’s support as he performs particularly well in his home region of northwest Arkansas; he shows a 69% approval rating in his home 3rd Congressional District.

POLL METHODOLOGY
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 roby@talkbusiness.net or Dr. Jay Barth by email at barth@hendrix.edu.

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