AG Rutledge has big lead in Lt. Governor’s field, but race still open to runoff

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 2,058 views 

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge leads a crowded field of contenders for the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor, according to new survey results from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College.

In the latest survey, conducted May 2, 2022, Rutledge tops 40% with State Sen. Jason Rapert her closest competitor at 11%. Roughly 25% of GOP voters remain undecided in the race.

Among 802 likely Republican primary voters, the results were:

Lt. Governor
40% – AG Leslie Rutledge
4% – Doyle Webb
11% – Sen. Jason Rapert
8.5% – Greg Bledsoe
4.5% – Chris Bequette
7% – Judge Joseph Wood
25% – Undecided

The winner of the GOP primary faces Democrat Kelly Krout and Libertarian Frank Gilbert.

“This race is really one of the most intriguing of this election cycle. There are a lot of solid candidates in this race and they are all jockeying for position should this race go into a runoff,” said Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief.

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:

“While other races are more consequential, the most interesting primary this season is likely the GOP primary for Lt. Governor, which includes several established names in GOP political circles. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge dropped her dream of becoming Governor to shift to the Lt. Governor race in the fall of 2021 and quickly became the favorite. Rutledge is clearly the leading candidate, according to our survey, but it remains a question whether she can win the race on May 24th or, instead, will face a tricky runoff election. If she falls short of a majority, several candidates show pathways to finishing second, depending upon the shape of the primary electorate. Rutledge wins pluralities among most all subgroups in the GOP electorate, but runs particularly strongly among voters lacking a college degree, among men, and among GOP identifiers.

“Interestingly, these are also areas of relative strength for State Senator Jason Rapert, who finishes second in the poll. This indicates that Rutledge and Rapert may be competing for similar groups of voters which means that a lane may be opened for a candidate with appeals to college graduates and women; former state Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe may actually be best positioned to take advantage of the Rutledge/Rapert competition for similar voters. If Rutledge decides to push for a first-round majority, however, second place may only be a moral victory for one of the men in the race.”

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:

“Attorney General Leslie Rutledge leads the field in the race for Lt. Governor with 40%. Her eight years as Attorney General and multiple statewide campaigns clearly give her an edge when it comes to name awareness among Republican primary voters. With 25% of the electorate undecided, there is a potential for Rutledge to reach 50% and win this contest without a runoff, though the large field of candidates likely makes that more difficult. Rutledge is followed by State Senator Jason Rapert (11%) and Greg Bledsoe (9%), both of whom ended March with enough cash-on-hand to make a solid push on the airwaves over the final few weeks in search of second place and a potential runoff slot.

“Some candidates in the race for Lt. Governor could see their outcome improve depending on the result of the primary for U.S. Senate. Leslie Rutledge (45%) and Bledsoe (11%) fare the best among voters choosing Senator John Boozman, while Rapert (11%) and Chris Bequette (12%), unsurprisingly, fare better among Jake Bequette voters. Notably, Rapert gets a significant boost among those planning to vote for Jan Morgan (21%) as well. In some cases those boats may rise and fall together depending on the overall makeup of the electorate and how voters break at the top of the ticket.”

The survey of 802 likely GOP primary election voters was conducted May 2, 2022, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.3%.

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. Additional methodology is available upon request.

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].