Poll: Little Rock mayor’s race is a three-way heat, large undecided block up for grabs

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 2,516 views 

A new poll conducted this week shows the race for Little Rock Mayor to be close and competitive among three of the five candidates with nearly one-third of the city’s voters still undecided on their choice less than a month before Election Day.

The Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll, commissioned by KATV Ch. 7, surveyed 498 likely Little Rock voters on Oct. 8-9, 2018. The survey used automated and live calls and has a margin of error of +/-4.4%.

Voters were asked about their choice for mayor based on how their names will appear on the ballot:

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

“These results show just how competitive the Little Rock Mayor’s election has been and will be,” said KATV news director Nick Genty. “With so many undecided voters, this race could swing in any direction. I hope voters educate themselves through forums and news like we offer and make an informed decision on the future of Little Rock.”

Additionally, poll respondents were asked questions regarding the direction of Little Rock, which issues were most important to them, and a variety of demographic questions including education and party affiliation. Those results will be released at a later date.

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

“Our survey shows an incredibly close three-way race for mayor of the state’s capital city with Warwick Sabin and Baker Kurrus at 22 percent and Frank Scott, Jr. at 18 percent of the vote. Leading the pack is ‘undecided’ at just over one-third of the vote. The candidates are not only in a race against one another but also in a race to get to the 40 percent of the vote that would allow the leading candidate to avoid a runoff two weeks later. Our snapshot of the race sends a strong signal that Little Rock voters should prepare for a runoff, however.

“Looking beneath the topline results, the survey shows some interesting patterns. The oldest group of voters (those over 65) skew heavily towards Kurrus. On the other hand, the youngest group of voters (those between 18 and 29) skew heavily towards Sabin; however, that group of voters has massive levels of undecided voters. Sabin and Scott also do better than Kurrus among middle-aged voters.

“In terms of race, Scott runs well among African-American voters (at 38 percent support), but about the same percentage of that group of voters report being undecided. Sabin performs particularly well with Democratic voters in the heavily Democratic city (leading with nearly 30 percent with Scott in second place in 23 percent), while Kurrus leads with both Republican and Independent voters. Finally, there is a minor gender gap in the race with Sabin leading with female voters while Kurrus leads with men.

“In short, the race for the top two spots on the ticket is all about turnout. If African-American votes turn out at high rates, it’s good news for Scott. If younger and female voters turn out well, it is good news for Sabin. If the electorate is disproportionately over 65, it’s great news for Kurrus.”

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

“The leader in the clubhouse to be the next Mayor of Little Rock is currently ‘Undecided.’ Baker Kurrus, Frank Scott, Jr., and State Representative Warwick Sabin are locked in a tight 3-way race, while candidates Glen Schwarz and Vincent Tolliver are non-factors. With 33.5% of the electorate still undecided at this point, Kurrus, Sabin, and Scott are all in the hunt, and a runoff is looking more and more likely.

“State Representative Warwick Sabin gets the most consistent support across different age groups and is the only candidate with tangible support in the 18-29 age group. Conversely, Baker Kurrus’ support is rooted more heavily with older voters. Younger voters are generally undecided at higher levels than are older voters, with 18-29 year olds leading the way with 54.3% not having a preference.

“Frank Scott, Jr. has a solid base of support among African American voters (38%), and with 36% of African Americans in this survey declaring themselves undecided, has a lot of room to grow that support base and improve his overall ballot score.

“As a group, Democratic voters are more willing to make a choice than are Republicans and Independents at this stage. Sabin leads among self-identified Democratic voters with 29.6%, followed by Scott at 22.8%. Among Republicans, Kurrus leads with 27.1%, while Sabin is second with 20.4%. Independent voters, which made up 17.5% of total respondents, strongly prefer Kurrus (42.4%). As with the overall numbers, however, large blocks of undecideds still exist within each party category, giving plenty of opportunity for all of the candidates to gain ground.

“There are some noticeable gender gaps, albeit small. Women prefer Sabin by a small margin, while men narrowly prefer Kurrus. Scott receives support from men and women evenly.

“Finally, this survey tested the educational attainment of the respondents and it is worth noting that it includes an uncharacteristically high level of voters with college or post-graduate degrees. Sabin and Kurrus perform better among those groups, while Scott has more support among voters with less formal schooling (high school, some college, and 2-year degree categories).”

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

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

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.”