Poll: 7 in 10 Second District voters give Gov. Hutchinson high marks for job performance

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,137 views 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson

If the year 2020 has been a bad weather system, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has survived the storms — a pandemic storm, an economic storm, and a storm of civil unrest.

Gov. Hutchinson, the two-term Republican governor, has a healthy job approval rating of 70%-26%, according to the latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey of 698 likely 2nd Congressional District voters. The poll was conducted on Saturday, Sept. 4 through Wednesday, Sept. 9 and has a margin of error of +/-4.3%. The 2nd Congressional District includes Pulaski, Saline, White, Faulkner, Perry, Conway and Van Buren counties.

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job Gov. Asa Hutchinson is doing?

36% – Strongly approve ]
34% – Somewhat approve ] – 70% approve

16% – Somewhat disapprove ]
10% – Strongly disapprove ] – 26% disapprove

4% – Don’t know

“It’s been a rough summer of discontent for any politician to navigate, but 2nd District voters are extremely high overall on the governor’s job performance,” said Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock. “There is plenty of hair-splitting to do in considering how strongly they approve of his execution of duties and some differences between Pulaski County and the rest of the district – which is both suburban and rural – but any way you slice these numbers, you have to conclude Gov. Hutchinson is getting very high marks for his leadership.”

In a June 2020 Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey, Gov. Hutchinson had a 62%-19% job approval rating among statewide voters.

This latest 2nd District poll also tested a head-to-head matchup of Congressional candidates – U.S. Rep. French Hill and State Sen. Joyce Elliott – and Presidential candidates – President Donald Trump, former Vice-president Joe Biden, and others. Those results will be released on Sunday, Sept. 13 in the TV edition of Talk Business & Politics and online at TalkBusiness.net.

Talk Business & Politics seeks bipartisan input in the construction and analysis of its polls.

Dr. Jay Barth, emeritus professor of politics at Hendrix College, is active in Democratic Party politics and helped craft and analyze the latest poll. He offered this analysis of the poll results:

“Since March, Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s public face has centered around the COVID-19 crisis. The governor’s daily press conferences reporting the latest news on the pandemic’s expression in Arkansas have meant that he has fully owned the state’s response — on the health care front, the education front, and the economic front. Therefore, it’s safe to say that public opinion on his job approval is, in essence, an evaluation of his performance on COVID-19.

“Because the 2nd Congressional District is the most Democratic portion of the state, the fact that Hutchinson’s public approval rating is so strong there (with just at 70% either strongly or somewhat approving of that work) suggests that Hutchinson is the rare political leader who has thrived in this intense environment. The daily appearances have enhanced Hutchinson’s profile and appear to have served him well. This makes his decision, announced Thursday, to limit these appearances interesting.

“There is some variation across demographic subgroups of voters in the 2nd District, however. A correlation is shown between age and evaluations of Hutchinson. As voters get older, they show greater appreciation for his performance with barely half of those under 30 approving — either strongly or somewhat — of his performance while the number jumps to just over 80% for those voters 65 or older.

“A nuanced gender gap is also shown regarding the governor’s performance. While the overall approval numbers for men and women are quite similar, men are much more likely to ‘strongly’ approve of the Governor’s work while women are more likely to describe their evaluation as “somewhat” approving. While Hutchinson’s job performance is strong for a Republican in the eyes of Black respondents with majority approval, Hutchinson is decidedly more positively viewed by white voters in the Second District.

“Finally, college graduates are slightly less likely to be approving of Hutchinson’s performance, although healthy majorities of college graduates and non-college graduates approve of the governor’s work.

“In terms of partisanship, Hutchinson is quite positively evaluated by his fellow Republicans in the 2nd District with over 80% approving and a slight majority ‘strongly’ approving of his performance. More surprisingly, majorities of both Independents and Democrats also approve of the GOP governor’s performance. However, while a plurality of Independents ‘strongly’ approve, a plurality of Democrats ‘somewhat’ approve of his work in office. All told, at least in the central part of the state, Hutchinson is passing the biggest test he’s faced as governor.”

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

“Gov. Asa Hutchinson maintains his high approval ratings in this survey of the 2nd Congressional District (70% to 26%), consistent with previous statewide support. Hutchinson’s ability to cross traditional party lines is what drives his high job approval, both in the 2nd and statewide. As you would expect, his approval rating is highest among Republicans (81%), yet he receives high marks from both Democrats (59%) and Independents (70%).

“The governor has received his fair share of arrows in recent months from both the right and the left over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite those criticisms, it’s evident that voters in the 2nd Congressional District largely approve of the course he’s charted. The governor’s approval rating in Pulaski County (65%) is also worth noting given the ongoing controversy over state control of Little Rock School District and conflict with the Little Rock teacher’s union over coronavirus concerns. His job approval rises to 76% outside of Pulaski County in the 2nd Congressional District.

“Men (71%) and women (69%) both approve of the job Hutchinson is doing, though the intensity of his support among women, 28% of whom strongly approve of the job he’s doing, is noticeably lower than it is with men, 44% of whom strongly approve. Nationally, women have been trending away from Republican candidates and officeholders in recent months. While the differing views among men and women don’t affect Hutchinson’s overall approval rating, they do have a greater impact on the contested races in this survey.”

This survey of 698 likely 2nd Congressional District voters was conducted Sept. 4-9, 2020, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.3%. Respondents were contacted via landline telephones and cell phones. The poll is slightly weighted to account for key demographics.

Under 30 – 12%
Between 30-44 – 23%
Between 45-64 – 37%
65 and over – 28%

Black 17%
Asian 1%
White 72%
Hispanic 2%
Native American 1%
Other 5%
Refused 2%

Party affiliation
Democrat 35%
Independent 22%
Republican 33%
Other 8%
Don’t know 2%

Female 52%
Male 48%

College graduate 40%
Non-college graduate 60%

Pulaski 52%
Others 48%

All media outlets are welcome to reprint, reproduce, or rebroadcast information from this poll with proper attribution to Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College. A link back to this specific story is also required for any digital or online usage by other media outlets.

For interviews, contact Talk Business & Politics Roby Brock by email at [email protected].