Arkansas Poll: Health care, drugs replace economy as top concern for Arkansans

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 643 views 

Health care and drugs have replaced the economy as a top concern for Arkansas voters, according to a new survey from the state’s flagship university.

The Arkansas Poll, conducted by the University of Arkansas political science department, was released Thursday (Nov. 1). It surveyed 1,200 Arkansas residents from Oct. 1 through Oct. 28, 2018. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.5%.

“It’s a credit to Arkansas that this annual effort to measure and share what the public wants from policymakers has hit this milestone. Based on our election prediction record, it’s clear Arkansans are honest about their preferences,” said Dr. Janine A. Parry, director of the poll which celebrates its 20th year in 2018.

This year, 23% of respondents indicated that health care was the most important problem facing Arkansas, while 21% said drugs was the top concern. Additional responses included education (16%), the economy (15%), politicians/politics (13%), crime (9%) and other (4%).

For the past two years, the economy has been the most important problem facing the state with 27% and 28% listing it as the top concern in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

The poll asked questions on a number of additional policy issues, including abortion, gay rights, gun control and global warming.

38% said that abortions should be more difficult to get, while 20% said they should be easier. 36% said that no changes should be made to abortion laws. 32% said that Roe v. Wade “definitely should” be overturned, while 10% said it “probably should.” 39% of respondents said Roe v. Wade “definitely should not” be overturned, while 10% said it “probably should not” be reversed.

On gun control, 44% of survey participants supported stricter gun laws, while only 10% said they should be less strict. 43% said there should be no changes to current gun laws.

In the past year, attitudes towards same-sex marriage has altered among residents. The poll found that 49% of Arkansans support same-sex marriage, while 46% oppose. A year ago, only 35% supported same-sex marriage with 57% opposing. Opinions on adoptions by gay couples have also shifted. 54% support equal rights for gays or lesbians to adopt with 39% opposing. A year ago, only 43% supported this right, while 45% opposed.

On the question of climate change, 46% of respondents said they felt global warming would affect their lives versus 44% who said they did not believe it would. A year ago, 30% of those surveyed said climate change would impact them during their lifetimes, while 61% said it would not.

The annual UA survey also clocked opinions on Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who enjoys a job approval rating of 61% compared to 23% who think he is doing a poor job in his role as the state’s chief executive.

In a head-to-head matchup in this year’s gubernatorial race, Hutchinson is preferred 59% to 35% over Democrat Jared Henderson. 6% prefer another candidate, which would include Libertarian Mark West.

President Donald Trump has a 50-46% job approval rating among poll respondents. A year ago, Trump had a job approval rating of 47-40%. U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., had a job approval rating of 43-32% with 25% undecided. U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., had a 46-37% job approval rating with 17% undecided.

The poll tested two ballot issues that will be voted on this November. 73% of respondents said they favored a constitutional amendment to require voters to present photo IDs at the polls. Just 24% opposed the measure known as Issue 2.

Issue 5, which would increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2021 was supported by 67% and opposed by 29% of those surveyed.

You can access the Arkansas Poll at this link.