President Donald Trump leads former Vice President Joe Biden in Arkansas, 65%-32%, Sen. Tom Cotton appears headed to an easy re-election, and ballot measures to continue a sales tax for highways and amend legislative term limits laws had broad support in the annual Arkansas Poll released Oct. 28 by University of Arkansas political science professor Dr. Janine Perry.
Trump leads Biden, 65%-32% with 3% indicating support for “other.” Fifty-eight percent of respondents and 63% of very likely voters approve of Trump’s job performance, while 40% of respondents and 36% of very likely voters disapprove.
His approval ratings increased significantly from 2019, when 50% of respondents and 53% of very likely voters approved.
The poll surveyed 804 Arkansans Oct. 9-21. It has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.4 points, or plus-minus 3.9 points among very likely voters.
In the U.S. Senate race, Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican, leads his Libertarian opponent, Ricky Dale Harrington, 75%-20% with 5% answering “other,” even though there is no other candidate on the ballot. Cotton’s approval rating was 58%-32% among all respondents with 10% saying they didn’t know or refusing to answer. It was 62%-31%-7% among very likely voters.
These were Cotton’s highest numbers by a large margin since he became a senator. His previous high among overall respondents was 48% in 2017. He had reached 51% three times among very likely voters.
A poll by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College Oct. 11-13 found Trump leading Biden, 58%-33.5%, and Cotton leading Harrington, 62.5%-27.5%.
Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment that would permanently continue the half-cent sales tax for roads and highways, was favored 62%-38%, while Issue 2, which would change state legislative term limits provisions, enjoyed 60%-40% support.
Issue 2 would reduce the number of years a state legislator can serve from 16 for most legislators to 12 consecutive, but they could return to the Legislature after a four-year break.
Issue 3, however, was trailing, 41%-59%. That proposal would toughen the requirements for collecting signatures for proposed amendments to the Arkansas Constitution and for voter-led initiated acts and referenda. Constitutional amendments would need the support of 60% of legislators to be referred to voters rather than the current 50%. Issue 3 also would move up the deadlines for citizen groups to submit signatures and for opponents to file lawsuits, and it would make other changes.
The Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College poll found Issue 1 had 59%-31% support while Issue 2 had 48%-28% support. Issue 3 was trailing, 20%-35% with 45% saying they didn’t know.
Thirty-two percent of respondents and 37% of very likely voters rated Trump’s response to the coronavirus as “excellent,” while 22% of both groups rated it as “good.” Nine percent of respondents and 7% of very likely voters rated it as “only fair” while 36% of respondents and 33% of very likely voters said it was “poor.”
In contrast, only 12% of respondents and 14% of very likely voters said state elected officials have done an “excellent” job with the coronavirus, while 39% and 40% said they have done a “good” job. Twenty-eight percent and 27% said they had done “only fair,” while 18% and 17% said they had done a poor job.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, however, had a 69%-25% overall approval-disapproval rating with 6% saying they didn’t know or refusing to answer. Among very likely voters, it was 70%-25%-4%. Those numbers were an improvement over 2019, when the governor’s approval ratings were 61%-19%-21% among all respondents and 65%-21%-14% among very likely voters.
Those were the governor’s highest numbers in that poll since he entered office. The Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College poll found Hutchinson’s job approval rating was 69%-23%.
In other results, 40% of respondents and 44% of very likely voters said they thought of themselves as Republicans, the highest numbers since the poll was first taken in 1999. That year, 23% of respondents and 26% of very likely voters considered themselves Republicans.
Identification with the Democratic Party has moved in the other direction. The poll found that 21% of respondents and 20% of very likely voters considered themselves to be Democrats, compared to 35% and 39% in 1999.
Likewise, conservatives outnumbered liberals, 49%-17%, with 31% saying they are moderate.
Thirty-three percent of respondents and 29% of very likely voters considered themselves to be independents, which are similar numbers to 1999, when the totals were 31% and 29%.
But Republicans have an advantage among them too, with 45% of the independents saying they were closer to Republicans and 32% saying they were closer to Democrats. Only 19% of those respondents said they were “just independent.”
“In short, not only has Arkansas now fully realigned (about 25 years after most of her southern peers), but – as we see nationally – almost no one is left in the middle,” Perry said in a news release.
Most Arkansans said the state is headed in the right direction versus the wrong one. The totals on that question, 77%-19% among all respondents and 79%-17% among very likely voters, were the most positive by six points going back to 2008, the first year listed on the poll.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic’s hardships, 48% of respondents said they were financially about the same last year, while 34% said they were better off and only 18% said they were worse. Fifty-three percent said they expected to be the same a year from now, while 34% said they expected to be better off financially and only 6% expected things to get worse.
Arkansans were split over the Black Lives Matter movement, with 46% strongly or somewhat supporting it and 48% opposing it. Of the opponents, 35% were strongly opposed.
Twenty-three percent of respondents said that health care was the most important issue facing Arkansans, while 23% said it’s the economy. Another 21% said it’s politicians/politics.
Regarding abortion, 45% of respondents said they favored making abortions more difficult to obtain, while 15% said they should be easier. Twenty-three percent said abortion should be illegal, 16% said it should be legal, and 59% said it would depend on the circumstances.
Asked about gun control laws, 32% said they should be stricter while 17% said they should be less strict and 49% said there should be no change.
Regarding climate change, 37% of respondents believe it will post a serious threat to them and their way of life in their lifetime, while 61% believe it won’t. To protect the environment, 39% said they eat less meat, 55% said they drive less, and 65% said they use fewer single-use plastics.
The poll is endowed through the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society in the University of Arkansas Department of Political Science.
Link here for more information on the 2020 Arkansas Poll.