Is President Trump meeting Arkansas voters’ expectations? It’s a mixed bag

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 695 views 

Better, worse or about the same? More truthful, less truthful? More knowledgeable, less knowledgeable? Arkansas voters have distinctively different views on the Trump Presidency, according to new poll numbers from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College.

Three new questions were released on Tuesday, July 25 in an effort to determine how the state’s voters view President Trump’s first six months in office.

Q: As President, has Donald Trump done better than you expected, worse than you expected, or about the same as you expected?  

32%     Better than expected
33%     Worse than expected
32.5% About the same as expected
2.5%    Don’t Know 

Q: Compared to previous presidents, is President Trump more truthful, less truthful, or about the same? 

34%     More truthful
44%     Less truthful
17.5% About the Same
4.5%    Don’t Know 

Q: Compared to previous presidents, is President Trump more knowledgeable, less knowledgeable, or about the same? 

28%     More knowledgeable
51%     Less knowledgeable
18%     About the Same
3%      Don’t Know

Earlier this week, TB&P and Hendrix College released poll numbers that show President Trump’s job performance is supported by Arkansas voters by a 50-47% margin, but he has fallen from 53-39% approval in April and a 60-35% approval in February of this year.

“My takeaway from these latest results, when coupled with the previous numbers we’ve released, is that voters are distinguishing between various aspects of the President’s performance. It’s not a straight ‘good job/bad job’ call. While you can approve or disapprove of Trump overall, there is not a monolithic reaction to every question we’ve posed. This is starkly different than during the Obama era,” said TB&P Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock.

“When we put all of this data together, which we’ll roll out on Thursday, political observers will be able to see a multitude of characteristics of what’s driving Trump supporters and those who oppose him,” Brock added. “Unlike President Obama’s time in office, this survey also suggests that a swath of Arkansas voters are not turned on or off by President Trump’s overall brand in a wholesale fashion like we’ve witnessed in the previous eight years. I believe that will make the Democrats’ task of regaining political standing in Arkansas more challenging than just being ‘blanket-opposed’ to President Trump.”

The latest TB&P-Hendrix College Poll has also looked at the President’s job approval rating and Russia controversy as well as where Arkansas voters stand on potential healthcare reform. The latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll was taken on Thursday, July 20, 2017 among 511 Arkansas voters. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.3%.

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:

“One goal of our survey was to understand Arkansans’ attitudes about President Trump on a deeper level than a mere “approve/disapprove” evaluation. As reported earlier, we got some gauge of voters’ sentiments about Trump’s temperament from a question asking attitudes about his use of Twitter. We asked two other questions that tap into traits about the President: One asked voters’ views on whether Trump is more or less truthful than previous men to hold his office and another asked their attitudes about whether he is more or less knowledgeable than his predecessors.

“A plurality (44%) of the entire sample sees him as less truthful, about a third (34%) see him as more truthful, and just under one in five (17.5%) see him as comparable in truthfulness. Unsurprisingly, there is a strong correlation between overall evaluations of Trump and perceptions of his truthfulness. Just at two-thirds of those who approve of the President’s job performance see him as more truthful than previous presidents driven by the 76% of “strong” supporters of the President who feel this way.

“Conversely, an overwhelming share (88%) of those who strongly disapprove of the President’s performance in office see him as less truthful than predecessors. Those who either “somewhat” approve or disapprove of Trump’s performance are more mixed on this issue. This does suggest that these malleable voters could be impacted by future events that either affirm Trump’s honesty or deepen questions in that regard.

“Relatedly, party identification is a key divider on perceptions of this trait with 57% of Republicans seeing Trump has more truthful, 73% of Democrats seeing him as less truthful, and independents splitting (41% “more truthful” and 37% “less truthful). The gender gap that has shown itself on other aspects of the evaluation of Trump is shown once again. While 47% of females see the President as less truthful than previous officeholders and 27% more truthful, men split nearly evenly on the issue (42% more truthful and 40% less truthful). Trump also performs particularly poorly among voters younger than age 45 on this issue.

“Somewhat surprisingly, as much as Trump’s itchy Twitter finger or questions about his truthfulness, it is his preparedness for the job as indicated by his knowledge needed for the position that troubles voters. Just over half (51%) of our sample sees President Trump as less knowledgeable than prior presidents while just over a quarter (28%) sees him as “more knowledgeable.”

“The same patterns in the crosstabs as on the previous question show themselves on this matter of Trump’s truthfulness. Aside from Republicans (with 52% of identifiers seeing Trump as more knowledgeable than those in office before him) and Trump supporters (with 56% seeing Trump as more knowledgeable), pluralities or majorities of all other political, social, and geographic groups see the President as less knowledgeable.

“They are led by Democrats (84% deeming Trump “less knowledgeable”), African-Americans (73%), those under 30 (70%), women (59%), and Second District voters (55%). Although the sample size is small, the finding for the youngest voters — whose knowledge of previous Presidents is more limited — is particularly striking.

“Finally, we asked Arkansas voters how the first six months of the Trump Presidency has matched up with their prior expectations. The sample is nearly perfectly split into thirds on the issue with 33% saying “worse,” 32.5% stating “about the same,” and 32% voicing “better.”

“Trump supporters are particularly bullish on the opening act of his Presidency with 64% saying it is turning out better than expected while those who strongly disapprove are more likely to say it is “worse” (62%) or “about the same” (34%) than expected. Otherwise, a majority of Republicans (55%) see the administration as exceeding expectations, while majorities of Democrats (56%) and African-Americans (56%) say it is “worse.” Other groups are more of a mixed bag, as shown by the full sample.”

METHODOLOGY
This survey was conducted on Thursday, July 20, 2017. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-4.3%, was completed using IVR survey technology among 511 Arkansas 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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