Democratic governor’s race full of undecideds

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 953 views 

If the Second Congressional District – the most Democratic-leaning region of the state – is any indication of the rest of the state, then no one knows for sure who will be the 2018 Democratic nominee for Arkansas Governor. In a new survey from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College, almost 60% of likely Democratic primary voters in the district are undecided.

Second District Democratic voters were asked:

Q: If the Democratic primary election for Governor was being held today and the candidates were Leticia Sanders and Jared K. Henderson, for whom would you vote?

17% Leticia Sanders
24% Jared K. Henderson
59% Don’t Know

“With both candidates being newcomers to the political scene and virtual unknowns, it is unclear who would win if the election were today,” said Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief. “With early voting underway and two weeks until Election Day, it’s time to kick it in a higher gear.”

Henderson and Sanders will debate on Wednesday night in their first and, likely, only head-to-head match-up. Talk Business & Politics and KATV will co-sponsor the forum. The winner of the Democratic primary faces either incumbent Gov. Asa Hutchinson or his GOP challenger, Jan Morgan, and Libertarian Mark West in the November general election.

“I caution that this poll just reflects voter attitudes in the Second Congressional District. However, it is the district with the most activity this primary cycle and it is in the state’s dominant media market,” Brock said. “With the lay of the political land and how Democratic primary races are spread out statewide, anything could really happen in this race.”

On Sunday, Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College released the results of the Second Congressional District Democratic primary that showed Clarke Tucker with a large lead over his three rivals.

Additional polling results from this latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey of likely Second Congressional District Democratic voters will be released in the coming days. On Tuesday, we’ll unveil Democratic sentiment towards President Donald Trump’s job performance. On Wednesday and Thursday, results will be released on Democratic attitudes on gun regulations and Arkansas Works.

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

Jared Henderson was identified as the right candidate to challenge Governor Hutchinson by the Democratic party establishment, but Leticia Sanders came out of nowhere to file at the end of the filing period. While we should be wary of generalizing from a survey from only one Congressional District, it now appears that Henderson is in some danger of being upset in the primary because of the monstrous undecided vote.

Sanders is running particularly strongly with African-American and younger voters in the Second District. Henderson’s campaign appears to have saved resources for the fall campaign rather than introducing him to voters at this point in the process, assuming Sanders to be only a nuisance candidate. That risk now appears a dangerous one for the Henderson campaign.

Robert Coon is a partner with Impact Management Group, a government relations and communications firm that works with GOP and independent candidates. Coon is also a Talk Business & Politics contributor. He offered this analysis:

The race for the Democratic nomination for Governor looks to be a pure toss up with neither candidate registering much name ID with the Second District electorate. Nearly 6 out of 10 Democratic voters in the Second Congressional District are undecided at the outset of early voting and only two weeks before election day. That’s not an inspiring position for either of the candidates especially given that both hail from CD2, which could indicate an even weaker ballot position for both candidates statewide.

With such a sizable undecided block it’s difficult to handicap this race. While Sanders leads slightly among the 18-29 age group, Henderson is currently beating her more than 2-1 among voters 65 and older – a group much more reliable to turn out – giving him a slight edge on election day.

This survey of 624 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted on Tuesday-Thursday, May 1-3, 2018. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-3.9%, was completed using live callers via cell phone and IVR survey technology. Respondents were chosen from a random sample of Arkansas Democratic primary voters who voted in at least one of the last three primary elections and whom indicated their likelihood to vote this year. Age was weighted.

Age (weighted according to 2016 state Democratic primary vote)
10%   Under the age of 30
19% Between the ages of 30 and 44
37% Between the ages of 45 and 64
34% 65 or older

1% Asian-American
23% African-American
1% Latino
69% Caucasian or White
6% Other

38% Male
62% Female

2.5% Did not complete high school
13% High School Graduate
25% Some College
32% Graduated College
27.5% Post-Grad Degree

Pulaski County vs. Non-Pulaski County
66% Pulaski County
34% Non-Pulaski County

Live Caller vs. IVR
24% Live Caller/cell phones
76% IVR

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]

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