Poll: Crime, education lead Little Rock voter concerns

by Roby Brock (roby@talkbusiness.net) 200 views 

Little Rock voters in the upcoming mayor’s race may base their decisions on the city’s crime and education problems, according to a new survey.

A new poll from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College, commissioned by KATV, found that “crime and public safety” and “education and local schools” were by far the most important issues facing voters. Additionally, city voters were evenly split on the direction the community is headed.

The survey of 498 Little Rock likely voters was conducted on Oct. 8-9, 2018 and has a margin of error of +/-4.4%. Last week, the first results were revealed that showed voters were undecided about their choice in a 5-way race for mayor. Baker Kurrus and Warwick Sabin held 22% of the vote each, and Frank Scott, Jr. was at 18%. Roughly 33.5% were undecided.

In the latest results, Little Rock voters were asked:

Q. Do you believe that things in Little Rock are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?

35%   Right direction
36%   Wrong track
29%   Don’t know

Q. In your view, what is the most important issue facing Little Rock today, the one you are most concerned about?

12.5%   Roads and infrastructure
10%     Healthcare
32.5%   Crime and public safety
10%     Jobs and the economy
30%     Education and local schools
5%      Something else 

“Real or perceived, crime in the capital city is of utmost concern for citizens and the next mayor will be challenged to find ways to reduce this problem,” said Nick Genty, KATV news director. “Likewise, the long-running battle over the Little Rock School District remains almost as high of a priority for residents in Little Rock. It’s hard to imagine that the city’s next mayor won’t be heavily involved in efforts to improve our education system.”

Last Thursday, KATV, Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College released a survey that showed Kurrus, Sabin and Scott in a three-way heat.

Q: If the election for Mayor of Little Rock were being held today and the candidates were Glen Schwarz, State Representative Warwick Sabin, Frank Scott, Jr., Baker Kurrus, and Vincent Tolliver, for whom would you vote?

1.5% Glen Schwarz
22% State Representative Warwick Sabin
18% Frank Scott, Jr.
22% Baker Kurrus
3% Vincent Tolliver
33.5% Don’t Know

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

“In addition to gauging Little Rock voters’ preferences in their hard-fought mayor’s race, we also had the opportunity to check in on their views on whether the city is headed in the right or wrong direction and on what issues they think are most pressing in the capital city.

“Overall, voters are split down the middle on the ‘right track/wrong track’ question. On the issues most important for the next mayor to address, crime and education clearly lead the pack. However, just as in the mayor’s race, there are interesting differences across demographic and political groups indicating that some groups of voters are more desiring serious change in Little Rock.

“On the ‘right track/wrong track’ question, white, male, middle-aged (45 to 64 year old), lower-educated, and Republican voters feel best about the current state of the city. This ‘Trump coalition’ is relatively small in Little Rock, but it is feeling good about things in the city. All other groups of voters skew in the direction of saying the city is on the wrong path, although it is only pluralities of voters who stake out that view. Younger voters (those under 45, but particularly those under 30), women, well-educated, and independent voters are most concerned about the city’s situation based on an analysis of crosstabs of the survey. Non-white voters also share this general pessimism.

“Among most every group of voters, crime and education stand out as the paramount issue facing the city. However, the youngest group of voters discount the importance of crime and, instead, place roads and jobs at the top of the list below education; for 18-29 year olds, crime places well down the list at just under of 10 percent of that group placing it as the most important issue.

“Republican (44%) and Independent (36%) voters are most likely to cite crime as the key issue facing the city, while Democratic voters are most likely to cite education as the most important issue (at 34%).

“Interestingly, women are slightly more likely to note the importance of crime, while men are slightly more likely to cite education as the key issue. Men are more likely to be concerned about roads and infrastructure than are women. The racial divisions in the city are oft-noted in analyses of the city, but white and African-American voters converge with pluralities of both noting crime as the most important issue and both following up with education.”

Robert Coon, managing partner with Impact Management Group, also helped craft and analyze the latest poll. He offered this analysis of the poll results:

“While Little Rock voters are evenly split on the direction of the city, fault lines do emerge in this survey across a variety of demographics.

“African American voters believe the city is on the wrong track by a 5 point margin, while white voters lean towards the right direction by 3 percentage points. Voters with a college degree or higher have a dimmer view of the direction the city is going compared to voters with lower educational attainment who have a net positive view. Republican voters say that the city is on the right track by a nearly 2-1 margin, while Democrats are split, and Independents are strongly wrong track minded (44.6%).

“Men and women view the direction of the city quite differently as men are more positive (43.4% right direction) and women more negative (37.2% wrong track). As it relates to the Little Rock Mayor’s race, voters supporting State Representative Warwick Sabin and Baker Kurrus are evenly split on the direction of the city. However 42% of Frank Scott, Jr.’s supporters believe the city is on the wrong track, which could be a sign of Scott’s appeal among voters looking for change.

“As many would expect, crime and education are by far the top two issues for Little Rock voters in this survey. Education was the Number 1 issue among in the two youngest age categories (44.7% and 38.3%), while crime peaked among older voters (31.2% and 39.9%). Both African American and white voters selected crime as their top issue followed by Education.

“From a party perspective, Democrats chose education as their top issue (33.6%) followed by crime (27.3%). Independents and Republicans both selected crime as their #1 issue (36% and 44.1% respectively). The largest segment of Sabin’s supporters view education as their number 1 priority (34.6%), a figure that ties in with Sabin’s stronger appeal among younger voters and base Democrats. Interestingly 17.7% of Sabin voters selected roads as their number 1 issue – a possible connection to his opposition to the 30 Crossing project.

“Scott’s voters are focused first on crime (34.4%) followed by education (28.2%), with healthcare coming in slightly above the citywide average among his supporters. Kurrus’ supporters are evenly balanced between crime and education.

“While the candidates running for Mayor are well aware of the importance of the two leading issues of crime and education, the differing views that voters have based on age and party demographics should provide some strategic insights as to how to best court undecideds in those subsets of the electorate.”

METHODOLOGY
This survey was conducted by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College on Monday-Tuesday, Oct. 8-9, 2018. It has a margin of error of +/-4.4%. The poll was completed using IVR survey technology and live cell phone respondents among likely voters in Little Rock, Arkansas. Only respondents who positively identified that they planned to vote in the November 6th general election were allowed to complete the survey. Approximately 28.5% of the voters in our sample were contacted via cell phone with live callers.

AGE (weighted according to recent voting history of city electorate)
15% Less than 30 years old
24.5% Between 30 and 44 years old
35.5% Between 45 and 64 years old
25% 65 or older

RACE/ETHNICITY (weighted according to recent voting history of city electorate)
33% African-American
1% Asian-American
58% White
2% Latino
7% Other/Don’t know

EDUCATION
1.5% Did not complete high school
8.5% High school or GED
16% Some College
8% Technical or 2-year degree
33% Bachelor’s degree
33% Post-graduate degree

PARTY ID
55% Democrat
20% Republican
17.5% Independent
6.5% Other

GENDER (weighted according to recent voting history of city electorate)
56% Female
44% Male

All media outlets may reprint, reproduce, or rebroadcast information from this poll with this attribution: “Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll, commissioned by KATV.”

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