Poll: Trump, Cotton on cruise control for re-election in Arkansas

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 5,893 views 

Arkansas’ six electoral votes are heavily favored to go to President Donald Trump, and one of his main allies, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, should return to Washington, D.C. regardless of the national presidential outcome.

A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey of 647 statewide likely voters shows roughly two-to-one support for both Trump and Cotton versus their main opponents. The poll was taken Oct. 11-13, 2020 and has a margin of error of +/-4.9%.

Q: If the election for President of the United States were being held today, and the candidates were Donald J. Trump, the Republican, Joseph R. Biden, the Democrat, Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian, and Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate, for whom would you vote?

58% Donald Trump
33.5% Joe Biden
2% Jo Jorgensen
1% Howie Hawkins
2% Someone else
3.5% Undecided

Q: If the election for U.S. Senate were being held today, and the candidates were Senator Tom Cotton, the Republican, or Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr., the Libertarian, for whom would you vote?

62.5% Tom Cotton
27.5% Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr.
10% Undecided

“Trump and Cotton have improved their standing with voters from this summer when their job approval ratings were horrific,” said Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief. “That said, job approval and binary election choices are two different things. In these head-to-head battles, both men are cruising to re-election.”

“I still think there is some upside for Harrington with undecided voters, but not enough to make this race close,” Brock added.

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:

“This survey, carried out just before early voting gets underway across Arkansas, was our first opportunity to take a temperature of the presidential race across the entire state. Despite President Trump’s electoral challenges across the nation, it appears that he is on a path to a victory in Arkansas that looks much like his overwhelming victory in the state four years ago.

“Unsurprisingly, Trump is most dominant over Democrat Joe Biden in the more rural portions of the state (the 1st and 4th Congressional Districts), while the race is closer in the more urban/suburban 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts. Trump has held on to his GOP base in the state, but also holds a 12-point lead among self-identified Independents.

“Among demographic subgroups, Trump wins both male and female voters although a major gender gap is shown as the President wins a slight majority of women but 65% of men. Similarly, Trump wins both college graduates and non-college graduate voters, but is just over 50% with better educated voters and leads more comfortably among those lacking a college degree. In terms of age, while Biden leads with voters under 30, just at two-thirds of voters between 30 and 64 support Trump; the oldest group of voters are more evenly split although Trump still leads 55%-40% among those 65 or older.

“There is little doubt that Trump will once again gain Arkansas’s electoral votes. The key question now is whether he pulls Republicans in more competitive races for Congress and the state legislature across the victory line with him in the state.

“Arkansas Democrats were unable to successfully field a candidate against incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, running for his second term in advance of what many anticipate to be a race for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. While Cotton does not face a major party opponent, he does face Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr., in his reelection contest. Cotton has attempted to ignore Harrington, refusing to attend their lone debate, an Arkansas PBS event last week where Harrington had the stage to himself.

“Our survey indicates that Cotton remains a lock for re-election. The question has always been how much protest vote will be expressed against the controversial U.S. Senator. A healthy majority of Democrats (61%), lacking a candidate of their own party for whom to vote, plan to vote for the Libertarian. Harrington also gains 35% of the votes of Independent and 28% of those who identify with another party. While Cotton wins most groups, expected demographic patterns also show themselves with Harrington running significantly better among college-educated voters, among women, among voters of color, and among voters under 30.

“Finally, Cotton overperforms in the rural portions of the state while underperforming in Central and Northwest Arkansas.”

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:

“Arkansas won’t be on the list of states waiting days or weeks to declare a winner in the Presidential race as President Donald Trump will win the state on November 3rd. The question will be whether Trump wins by the same margin that he did in 2016 when he received 60% of the vote and won by 27 points, and what impact anything short of that will have on other races. At 58%, Trump is close to his 2016 vote share while Joe Biden is receiving the same level of support as Hillary Clinton (33%).

“Trump leads handily with voters 30 to 44 (66%) and 45 to 64 (67%), while Biden overperforms with voters under 30 (44%), and 65+ (40%). Trump has near universal support among Republicans (96%) while Biden only reaches 82% with Democrats. Independents prefer Trump by 11 points. A majority of both men (65%) and women (52%) intend to vote for Trump, though there is a noticeable gender gap between the two.

“Geographically, Trump’s support tops 60% in both CD1 (60%) and CD4 (67%), but dips in CD2 (55%) and CD3 (50%). While this survey shows Trump should win in both CD2 and CD3, his margin of victory in those districts are likely to be lower, potentially having some impact on down ballot races in those areas.

“Senator Tom Cotton will win re-election handily, with more than 60% currently supporting him according to this survey. Cotton leads Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr. by wide margins in all voter age groups except for those under 30. Harrington’s base of support appears to be primarily made up of Democrats (62%) who have no party candidate to vote for on the ballot due to the Josh Mahony withdrawal fiasco. Meanwhile, Cotton has the support of 97% of Republicans and 60% of Independents, assuring him of victory.

“The Senate race parallels the Presidential contest as it relates to gender and geography. Cotton has the support of both men and women, though his support among women (57%) is 10 points lower than with men (67%). Conversely, Harrington’s support among women is 7 points higher than it is with men. Geographically, Cotton’s strongest support comes from CD1 (70%) and CD4 (68%). As with Trump, support for Cotton falls in CD2 and CD3 in comparison to the other districts, further demonstrating that there is some softness for Republican candidates in those areas of the state.”

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].