Poll: Biden receives low marks for job approval, Hutchinson has widespread support

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 2,625 views 

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson scores high marks for his job performance among Arkansas voters, while Democratic President Joe Biden ranks low. U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., has an overall negative job approval rating, although he performs well with his party’s voters.

The latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll of 961 likely Arkansas voters was conducted Feb. 7-8, 2022 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.4%. The survey asked:

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

16%  Strongly Approve
43%  Somewhat Approve [59% approve]
23%  Somewhat Disapprove
15%  Strongly Disapprove [38% disapprove]
3%   Don’t Know

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job Sen. John Boozman is doing?

10%     Strongly Approve
28%     Somewhat Approve [38% approve]
19%     Somewhat Disapprove
27.5%  Strongly Disapprove [46.5% disapprove]
15.5%  Don’t Know

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job President Joe Biden is doing?

13.5%  Strongly Approve
24%     Somewhat Approve [37.5% approve]
9.5%    Somewhat Disapprove
51%      Strongly Disapprove [60.5% disapprove]
2%       Don’t Know

“My takeaway from this polling is that it is consistent with what we’ve seen in recent times. I’d look for even more Republican candidates from U.S. Senate campaigns down to the Justice of the Peace level to run against President Biden and his unpopularity,” said Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics editor-in-chief. “On the flip side, Gov. Hutchinson will be a strong endorsement for candidates, especially in the general election cycle.”

Later this week, the TB&P-Hendrix Poll will release additional results matching Sarah Huckabee against Democratic gubernatorial challengers, public opinion on recreational marijuana, and voter attitudes regarding business vaccine mandates. Yesterday, poll respondents named Nolan Richardson as the greatest University of Arkansas coach in a survey question.

ANALYSIS
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:

“In this survey, we examined the public standing of three key political figures: Gov. Asa Hutchinson, U.S. Senator John Boozman, and President Joe Biden. Although the basic findings—majority support for Hutchinson, general disengagement on Boozman, and majority negativity for Biden—are in synch with previous polling results in the state, some subtle shifts in the data are worth noting.

“Just under six in ten Arkansas voters approve of Gov. Hutchinson, now in his last year as governor and preparing to enter his final regularly scheduled legislative session. That is fairly consistent with previous results, but the lack of strong support for Hutchinson—his majority support is fueled primarily by voters who “somewhat” approve of his performance—is telling. It is reflective of the political and social chaos of the last two years that have made the job of the American governor harder than at any point in recent memory. Hutchinson’s visible critiques of former President Donald Trump’s style of Republicanism also has hurt him with Republican voters with whom Trump remains overwhelmingly popular. As a result, Hutchinson underperforms with Republicans and likely overperforms a bit with Democratic voters; just under half of Democrats support the governor, but almost entirely Democratic support is more lukewarm support. For a Republican, Hutchinson similarly overperforms with Arkansas’ Black voters (just under half are approving of his performance, although almost all are in the ‘somewhat’ approval group). For a contemporary Republican, Hutchinson underperforms with men and with voters lacking a college degree indicating his disconnect from two core groups in the Trump coalition. Finally, Gov. Hutchinson’s numbers with the youngest group of voters (those under 30) are brutal with over three in four disapproving of his performance.

“Sen. Boozman is seeking his third full term as a U.S. Senator in 2022. Historically, there has been little strong opinion regarding Boozman among the Arkansas electorate. However, now Boozman’s ‘strongly disapprove’ numbers have grown and now the ratio of ‘strongly disapprove’ to ‘strongly approve’ voters is nearly three-to-one. This is likely driven by general antipathy towards Washington politicians of both parties, but it is troubling for an incumbent politician. That said, there is only one election that matters for Boozman: the Republican primary election. In that contest, Boozman does face opposition, including some well-funded outside groups supporting newcomer Jake Bequette. With Republican adherents, Boozman’s approve/disapprove numbers are 61% to 32%, but fewer than two in ten of this core group strongly approve of the senator. Like Hutchinson, Boozman underperforms with men and non-college educated voters and young voters exhibit particular antipathy for his performance, but with the additional baggage of being a ‘D.C. politician.’ Boozman is underwater with all racial and ethnic groups and is particularly unpopular with voters of color. All told, the survey results indicate a path for a strong Republican primary opponent against Boozman, but the incumbent—despite his damaged standing—remains a favorite to return to Washington.

“Finally, and unsurprisingly, President Joe Biden is thoroughly unpopular with Arkansas voters. Aside from his strong support among Democratic voters (92% support) and African-American voters (83% support), Biden faces strong unfavorable ratings among all other groups of voters. Perhaps most troubling for Democrats hoping for demographic changes in the state to better their electoral chances are the particularly poor numbers for Biden among the state’s voters of color who do not identify as Black. While his approval numbers are poor with all of the groups, he does perform slightly better with women and college-educated voters. The President also has slightly better numbers among the youngest (those under 30) and oldest (those 65 and above) groups of voters. This also becomes the first opportunity we have had to examine the President’s standing in the state’s new Congressional districts that divide the state’s largest county of Pulaski across three districts. While the Second Congressional District has lost some of the most Democratic sections of Pulaski County, it does remain the best district for Biden with 45% of CD2 voters approving of Biden’s performance and 54% disapproving.”

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 59%, Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s approval numbers remain steady since our last survey in September 2021 (58%). Consistent with other public surveys, the governor’s approval transcends party lines with just over two thirds of Republicans (68%), roughly half of Democrats (49%), and a majority of independents (60%) indicating they’re pleased with the job he’s doing. It’s clear that Hutchinson has charted a course of governance that comes with a broader appeal, while still maintaining healthy support from his party’s base. Based on recent public appearances, it’s that balanced approach Hutchinson is relying on as he continues to raise his national profile for potential future endeavors.

“Sen. John Boozman’s job approval rating (38%) has risen eight percentage points since our June 2021 survey (30%) while his disapproval has increased by a similar margin. Among Republicans, however, Boozman fares much better, reaching 61%. Yet a significant portion of his approval comes from Republicans who only somewhat approve (41%) of the job he’s doing. Notably 19% of women ‘don’t know’ how they feel about the job Boozman is doing, compared to only 11% of men who indicated the same, indicating that an extra focus may be needed to shore up female voters. While Boozman’s campaign has increased his rhetoric on Republican leaning issues in recent months, he will still need to improve his position among independent voters, more than 50% of which currently disapprove of the job he’s doing. Arguably, Boozman will face his strongest test of the cycle in the May primary election. His current standing with Republican voters puts him on solid ground, yet there is still work to be done among those Republican voters who only somewhat approve (41%) and those who don’t know (15%).

“President Joe Biden’s approval numbers worsened only slightly since September, with approval dropping to 38% (-1%) and disapproval increasing to 60% (+1%). While underwater with both men and women, Biden performs significantly better with women (42%/55%) than men (33%/66%) and his numbers peak in the 2nd Congressional district (45%). Along party lines, Biden gets low marks from Republicans (94% disapprove) and independents (59%). While his overall approval hits 92% with Democrats, 51% only somewhat approve of the job he’s doing, signaling frustration and doubt even among his party base.”

METHODOLOGY
This survey of 961 likely general election voters was conducted Feb. 7-8, 2022, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.4%. Responses were collected via SMS to an online survey and by phone. The poll is slightly weighted to account for key demographics including age, ethnicity, education, and gender.

Age
Under 30 – 5%
Between 30-44 – 25%
Between 45-64 – 40%
65 and over – 30%

Race
Black 9%
Asian 1%
White 83.5%
Hispanic 1%
Other 5.5%

Party affiliation
Democrat 25.5%
Independent 27.5%
Republican 38%
Other 9%

Gender
Female 52%
Male 48%

Education
College graduate 40%
Non-college graduate 60%

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]