Poll: Hutchinson job approval remains high at 69%

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,462 views 

A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll indicates Arkansas voters still have a high opinion of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s job performance.

The statewide survey of 647 likely voters was conducted on Sunday, Oct. 11 to Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. It has a margin of error of +/-4.9%.

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job Asa Hutchinson is doing as Governor?

30%   Strongly approve ]  69%
39%   Somewhat approve ]

13.5% Somewhat disapprove ]  23%
9.5%  Strongly disapprove ]

8% No opinion

Hutchinson’s 69-23% job approval rating is an improvement from this summer when the governor boasted a 62-19% approval rating during the height of social protests and a spike in coronavirus cases.

“Gov. Hutchinson remains extremely popular among a wide swath of Arkansans. Voters give him high marks for leadership even as COVID-19 cases rise and continue to dominate the political landscape,” said Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-chief Roby Brock.

The latest TB&P-Hendrix Poll also tested the generic brand strength of the state’s two major political parties among legislative candidates.

Q: If an election for the Arkansas state legislature in your legislative district was being held, would you vote for the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate?

57% Republican candidate
32.5% Democratic candidate
10.5% Undecided

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:

“Arkansans’ views on their second term Governor, Republican Asa Hutchinson, is a case of ‘same song, umpteenth verse.’ Just as was the case with his predecessor, Democrat Mike Beebe, Hutchinson has remained very popular across the six years of his governorship. Hutchinson remains unsurprisingly popular with his fellow Republican partisans, but he also has reach beyond his partisan base with a slight majority of Democrats voicing some level of approval for Hutchinson and an overwhelming two-thirds of Independents either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ approving of his performance.

“Across demographic groups, few noticeable differences show themselves in Hutchinson’s approval levels with the exceptions of age and race. While those voters 65 or over are solidly behind the governor (42% strongly approving; 35% somewhat approving), the youngest group of voters are less generous towards his performance (only 44% are in one of the two approval categories) though just over a quarter of those under 30 have no strong attitudes towards Hutchinson’s work.

“While Hutchinson gains lower evaluations among Black voters, he still performs quite well for a Republican public official with 58% of the state’s Black voters approving of his work. There is no accident that Hutchinson features prominently in advertising for Republicans in competitive races across the state; he is most prominent in the 2nd Congressional District, introducing himself as simply ‘Asa’ in his endorsement advertisement for incumbent Congressman French Hill.

“We also included a legislative horserace question on this survey, much like national surveys do for guidance in who will control the House of Representatives. Of course, we have no doubt which party will control the Arkansas General Assembly come January. The key question is whether the Republicans will maintain their supermajority (75%) in the House where they presently hold 76 of the 100 seats and/or develop a supermajority in the 35-member state Senate where they are one vote short of absolute power over tax and spending matters.

“The generic ballot question certainly shows overwhelming support for GOP candidates in the Arkansas electorate. Democrats do run best in the 2nd Congressional District where many of the most closely-watched races for the state House are found. In the 1st and 4th Districts where several south Arkansas state Senate districts perceived to be close are found, however, less than 3 in 10 voters voice support for generic Democratic candidates.

“Otherwise, the typical partisan and demographic patterns show themselves. Perhaps most interesting, despite Republicans dominance in the state, Independents only skew Republican by a 45%-35% margin. The significant gaps in gender and education that are part of the 2020 political environment show themselves on the generic ballot with Republicans performing better with non-college educated voters and male voters. Still, strong advantage GOP in these numbers. The question is exactly in which districts those patterns show themselves.”

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:

“At 69%, Gov. Asa Hutchinson remains immensely popular in Arkansas. Hutchinson’s strongest support comes from voters 65+ (77%), 42% of whom strongly approve of the job he’s doing. This strong approval among older voters is significant given national and state data showing older voters souring on Republicans.

“Hutchinson’s approval rating along gender lines also defies national trends, as he shows no weakness among female voters. In fact, his approval numbers among women (70%) actually exceed those of men (67%).

“Hutchinson’s broad approval has traditionally been buoyed by his ability to appeal to voters across party lines, and this survey is no different. 79% of Republicans approve of the job he’s doing, along with 67% of Independents and 72% who say they’re ‘Something Else.’ 53% of Democrats approve of the job Hutchinson is doing, however, the bulk of that approval comes from those who only somewhat approve (38%).

“Republicans maintain a clear advantage in state legislative races based on voters’ generic ballot preference (GOP +24%). Independent voters prefer the Republican candidate by 10% and ‘Something Else’ voters prefer Republicans by 31%. Republicans have relied on an advantage with Independent voters in recent election cycles, so this will come as welcome news. Democrats have an advantage among voters under 30 (+9%) while Republicans lead comfortably among those 30 to 44 (+40%) and 45 to 64 (+32%).

“Voters over the age of 65 also prefer Republican state legislative candidates, but by a much narrower margin (+13%). Republicans should be encouraged that the erosion of support among voters 65+ that’s been present in many federal races is not cutting as deeply into state level politics here in Arkansas.

“As we’ve seen elsewhere, men strongly prefer Republican state legislative candidates based on party (61%). Though unlike some federal races, at the state legislative level Republican candidates still lead among women (53%).

“Democratic preference for state legislative races is the highest in the 2nd Congressional District (39%), which is consistent with polling that shows a close Congressional race and stronger performance for Joe Biden in that district. While Republicans have a 13-point generic ballot advantage in District 2, the higher than average Democratic preference could result in a few close state legislative races.”

This survey of 647 likely statewide voters was conducted Oct. 11-13, 2020, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. 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 – 24%
Between 45-64 – 39%
65 and over – 25%

Black 12%
Asian 1%
White 79%
Hispanic 1%
Native American 1%
Other 5%
Refused 1%

Party affiliation
Democrat 26%
Independent 22%
Republican 43%
Other 7%
Don’t know 2%

Female 52%
Male 48%

College graduate 36%
Non-college graduate 63%
Refused 1%

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].