Three legislative-referred amendment proposals could all pass this November, although one measure has more support than the other two.
A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll of 835 likely Arkansas voters found a plurality of support for Issue 1, which would allow the Arkansas legislature to call itself into special session. Under the current state constitution, only the governor can call for an extraordinary session of the Arkansas General Assembly.
Q: Issue 1, would give the legislature the authority to convene in extraordinary session (special session) by joint proclamation of House and Senate leadership or by written proclamation containing the signatures of at least two-thirds of the members of both the House and Senate. If the election were held today, would you vote for or against Issue 1?
Q. Issue 2, the “Constitutional Amendment and Ballot Initiative Reform Amendment”, would change the number of votes required for approval of initiated acts and constitutional amendments (both proposed by the people and referred by the legislature) to at least 60 percent of the votes cast. If the election were held today, would you vote for or against Issue 2?
Q. Issue 3, known as the “Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment”, states that state government may never burden a person’s freedom of religion except in the rare circumstance that the government demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is in furtherance of a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling government interest. If the election were held today, would you vote for or against Issue 3?
“The number of undecided voters on all three of these legislative-referred initiatives suggests these races could be very close on election night. Supporters and opponents of all three will need to ramp up a persuasive education campaign to move voters to their side in the coming weeks,” said Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief. “I’d also suggest that constituencies who favor or oppose these measures could also help strategically boost turnout for certain demographics in this election cycle. These could turn out to be the more interesting results to watch on November 8th.”
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:
“On the three ballot measures that are on the November ballot through actions of the General Assembly, “undecided” rules the day. The measure that comes closest to a majority position is Issue 1, which would allow the legislature to call itself into session through series of steps; at present, only the Governor may call the General Assembly into session. Still, even Issue 1 is significantly short of the majority necessary to add it to the Constitution. Issue 1 expresses plurality leads across all demographic groups and in all geographical areas of the state. The only group with plurality concerns about the issue are Democrats who express concern about giving a Republican-controlled body that has shown itself to be more conservative that the GOP governor in recent years additional power.
“The other two issues appear to be in even weaker spots with a great deal of confusion about the issues among Arkansas voters. With both Issue 2 (which would require a 60% vote of voters to ratify a constitutional amendment or initiative in the state) and Issue 3 (which would add protections to Arkansans’ religious liberty against state governmental regulations that intruded into them) about a third favor the amendments, about a third oppose them, and about a third are undecided.
“On Issue 2, the groups most dubious of the increase in the threshold to add amendments and initiated acts from the current simple majority are the youngest groups of voters (50% oppose), college-educated voters (40% opposed), and Democrats (46% oppose). With a grassroots campaign beginning against the measure, much as occurred two years ago with another amendment sent forward by the legislature that would have limited direct democracy in the Natural State, the odds feel somewhat long on Issue 2.
“Finally, the coolness toward Issue 3 is somewhat surprising considering the religiosity of Arkansans. On that issue, the only significant variations across subgroups among supporters or opponents are that African-Americans (46% in favor) are particularly supportive as are Republicans (43%). Meanwhile, college-educated voters (41%), men (44%), and Democrats (42%) are significantly emphatic in their levels of oppositions. It’s clear that patterns of support and opposition on Issue 3 is creating, at least to this moment, odd pewmates.”
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:
“As it stands today, 41% of likely voters in Arkansas would vote for Issue 1, a margin of 17-percentage points over those that would vote against it. A large percentage of voters, more than a third, are undecided on the measure. Along party lines, the largest support comes from Republicans (the party in power), 53% of which would vote for the proposal. Independents align more closely with Republicans this issue, with 41% in favor of the proposal. 35% of Democrats oppose Issue 1 with 24% supporting it. However, 41% of Democrats are undecided today. Men and women both net favor the proposal, with a larger percentage of women currently undecided (44%). Barring a well-funded opposition campaign, Issue 1 is likely to pass in November.
“Voters are evenly split on Issue 2, with the largest share currently undecided (36%). Views on this proposal don’t vary much by age group apart from voters under the age of 30, 50% of which are against it. Republicans support Issue 2 by a 2-1 margin (42% to 22%), while Democrats oppose it by a slightly wider margin (46%-18%) and independent voters are evenly split. Among college graduates, 40% oppose Issue 2 compared to 27% who support it. For those without a college degree, 35% support it while 27% oppose it. Issue 2 is likely to be the most hotly contested referred amendment on the ballot this cycle with groups forming both for and against it over the past several weeks. With it currently being a toss-up, voters are likely to hear a whole lot about Issue 2 over the next few weeks.
“As with Issue 2, voters are split on Issue 3 at similar levels. Along racial lines, support is higher among Black voters (46% for) than it is among white voters (31% for). When it comes to party, however, Republicans are the only group that supports the proposal (43% for). Democrats and Independents are closely aligned on Issue 3, with 42% of Democrats opposing it along with 41% of Independents. Overall, women support Issue 3 by 5-percentage points, while men oppose it by 9-percentage points. Moreover, only 20% of men are undecided on the measure, while that figure jumps up to 45% with women, meaning that persuasion among women will be a critical area for both sides. Like Issue 2, this proposal is a toss-up going into Election Day.”
The survey of 835 likely Arkansas voters was conducted Sept. 12, 2022, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.8%.
Responses were collected via SMS 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 or inquiries, contact Talk Business & Politics Roby Brock by email at [email protected].