Poll: Incumbent Secretary of State John Thurston near 50% in primary bid; Democrats tied

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 2,261 views 

The Arkansas State Capitol on Inaugural Day.

The two party primaries for Arkansas’ Secretary of State show a clear lead for the incumbent among GOP voters, while the two Democratic candidates are tied and vying for a large undecided block of voters.

Primary Election Day is Tuesday, May 24th.

In the latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll, Secretary of State John Thurston leads his primary challenger, former State Sen. Eddie Joe Williams by a comfortable margin, although he is just shy of the 50% threshold he’ll need to secure the Republican nomination in his re-election bid.

Among 802 likely Republican primary voters, the results were:

Secretary of State
48.5% – Sec. of State John Thurston
12.5% – Eddie Joe Williams
39% – Undecided

For the two Democrats who are seeking their party’s nomination to challenge the eventual GOP winner, Anna Beth Gorman and Josh Price are virtually tied and will compete in the final two weeks for an undecided group of voters who will determine their fates.

Among 597 likely Democratic primary voters, the results were:

Secretary of State
22% – Anna Beth Gorman
21% – Josh Price
57% – Undecided

“While a down-ballot race that usually draws little media attention, the Secretary of State race has become a larger focus due to the national profile on chief elections officers after the 2020 Presidential election. It would appear that incumbent John Thurston is likely to earn the GOP nomination again, while the Democratic winner is very unclear,” 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:

“Two candidate primaries exist for both Republicans and Democrats for the position of Secretary of State. In contemporary politics, because of the questions regarding election fairness among both Democratic and Republican partisans, the historically low-key Secretary of State role has become a deeply contested one in states across the country. Based on our polling, the incumbent John Thurston is in solid shape for renomination to the office despite his opposition from a Trump-associated candidate, while the Democratic primary is shaping up to be a coin-flip contest.

“Former legislator Eddie Joe Williams touts his being a Trump appointee in his race against Thurston, running for his second term. Despite the Trump association for Williams, the fairly low-profile Thurston is within spitting distance of a majority with nearly four in ten Republican voters still unclear of their vote intention. Few major variations are shown across subgroups of voters who say they will participate in the GOP primary, but Thurston does run strongest with those who identify as Republican and, at the end of the day, are most certain to turn out to vote between now and the May 24th primary.

“On the Democratic side, nonprofit executive Anna Beth Gorman and former Pulaski County Election Commissioner Josh Price are in a near dead heat for the nomination. However, the winner in the race at this point is ‘undecided,’ meaning that the campaign in the stretch run will determine the outcome. Price runs slightly stronger among the youngest voters, voters of color, and college-educated voters on the Democratic side, but Gorman takes advantage of a gender gap with her standing among women voters in a disproportionately female Democratic electorate.”

Robert Coon is managing partner with Impact Management Group, which works with Republican political candidates. He declined to offer analysis on this race as his firm has an association with the Thurston campaign.

The survey of 802 likely GOP primary election voters was conducted May 2, 2022, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.3%. The survey of 597 likely Democratic primary election voters was conducted May 2, 2022, and has a margin of error of +/- 5.0%.

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].