Poll: Boozman, Griffin see leads grow; Sanders’ lead unchanged

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 7,198 views 

Republicans are in the driver seat in the three highest-profile candidate races in Arkansas’ 2022 general election with U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin making strong gains since a baseline poll in September.

The latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey of 974 likely Arkansas voters shows Boozman with a 20-point lead over his Democratic rival, Griffin with a 26-point lead, and GOP gubernatorial nominee Sarah Huckabee Sanders with a 10-point lead over her challenger, Democrat Chris Jones.

Sanders’ and Jones’ race is virtually unchanged from September. Boozman’s lead has grown from 14 points to 20 points against Democrat Natalie James, while Griffin’s lead has expanded from 17 points to 26 points against Democrat Jesse Gibson.

In the statewide poll, conducted October 17-18, 2022, respondents were asked:

Q. If the election for U.S. Senate were today, which of the following candidates would you vote for?

52% Senator John Boozman (R)
32% Natalie James (D)
3% Kenneth Cates (L)
13% Undecided

Q. If the race for Governor were being held today, which of the following candidates would you vote for?

51% Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R)
41% Chris Jones (D)
3% Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr. (L)
5% Undecided

Q. If the race for Attorney General were being held today, which of the following candidates would you vote for?

57% Lt. Governor Tim Griffin (R)
31% Jesse Gibson (D)
12% Undecided

“I think these results show Republicans will win, some handily, but it’s the margins of potential victory that are somewhat surprising,” said Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief. “I don’t predict any upsets on election night, but I would have expected much more conformity in the margins.”

On Sunday, Talk Business & Politics will release poll results on Issues 1, 2, 3 and 4. On Monday, results of the Arkansas Supreme Court matchup between Justice Robin Wynne and Judge Chris Carnahan will be released.

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:

“As in our survey earlier in the fall, we once against tested voters’ attitudes in three races for high-profile statewide offices. Interestingly, in two of the races, we saw previously undecided voters shift decidedly towards the Republican frontrunners. In both the U.S. Senate and Attorney General races, Republicans grew their previous leads significantly during a period when campaign advertisements began appearing regularly and voters began focusing on their upcoming votes. Both incumbent U.S. Senator John Boozman and Republican AG candidate Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin both saw leads grow significantly. Both appear on the path towards fairly dominant victories with Griffin — a candidate who has reached across the branches of the complex Republican electorate — in particularly strong shape. Odds are that Griffin may well lead the statewide ticket for his party.

“However, almost no change has occurred in the third high-profile race. Republican nominee Sarah Huckabee Sanders maintains a distinctive lead over Democrat Chris Jones, but the polarizing Sanders has not been able to open a more expansive lead. Relatively few voters were undecided in the Governor’s race in our September survey and that remains the case now. Little shift in voters’ preferences has occurred even as the Sanders campaign has spent millions on television advertising. Jones has combined enough funding to run a credible media campaign with a solid grassroots effort to stay somewhat competitive in a tough state for any Democrat. Indeed, Jones may be on a pathway to the best statewide showing for a Democrat in several election cycles.

“Looking below the topline results, the basic voting patterns are similar across the three races. Voters lacking a college education, white voters, men, and older voters all veer towards Republican nominees, while Democrats overperform with better educated voters, voters of color, women, and the youngest group of voters. Geographically, the Second Congressional District is the most Democratic district although, across the three races, Jones only leads in that central Arkansas enclave (with 53% of the vote). Finally, while candidates’ fellow partisans are generally supportive of their party nominees, it is Jones who has both most effectively coalesced Democratic support and who also leads among Independents. Both Boozman and Griffin have leads with Independents in their races.”

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:

“Sarah Huckabee Sanders (51%) continues to lead Chris Jones (41%) in the contest for Governor, with only 5% of likely voters undecided in this race. Sanders has near universal support of Republicans (88%), while Jones has the same among Democrats (95%). Independents lean towards Jones by a 3-percentage point margin (46% to 43%), as they did in September. Sanders continues to lead among the oldest two age categories (53%, 57%) while Jones leads with voters under 30 (51%) and 30-44 (44%). As in September, one of the widest gaps between the candidates falls along educational achievement. Voters with a 4-year college degree prefer Jones (58%-36%), while those without a degree prefer Sanders (59%-32%). Sanders leads among both men (54%) and women (48%), though, as previously, her lead among women is marginal (+1%). Geographically Jones’ largest support comes in CD2 (53%), while Sanders leads in all other congressional districts. On the whole, Jones is over-performing the other Democratic candidates on the ballot, which is attributable to the fact that he’s the only Democratic candidate to raise and spend significant dollars this cycle – more than $3 million to date. If his over-performance holds, it would undoubtedly be the high water mark for Democrats on Election Day, but it won’t be enough for victory.”

“Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin has widened his lead over opponent Jesse Gibson from 17-percentage points in September to 26-percentage points today. Griffin leads Gibson in all age categories, except for voters under 30 where they are tied. Along gender lines, a majority of both men (63%) and women (52%) indicate they plan to vote for Griffin, up from 57% and 42% in September. Griffin’s support among Republicans tops 90% while he receives 55% from Independents (up from 44% in September) – a key dynamic driving his large lead.

“At 52%, Senator John Boozman has seen an 8-percentage point increase in his ballot score since September, expanding his lead over Natalie James to 20-percentage points. Boozman leads with all age groups except those Under 30. Boozman’s share among Republicans has increased to 88% and Independents prefer the Senator 44% to James’ 35%. Boozman leads among both men (59%) and women (47%) and in all four Congressional districts. Most notably, as the percentage of undecided voters has come down since September (21% then compared to 13% now), Boozman has received nearly all of the increase in support signaling the trend line into Election Day.”

The survey of 974 likely Arkansas voters was conducted Oct. 17-18, 2022 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.9%.

Under 30 – 5%
Between 30-44 – 20%
Between 45-64 – 40%
65 and over – 35%

Black 9%
Asian 0.5%
White 86%
Hispanic 1%
Other 3.5%

Party affiliation
Democrat 26%
Independent 27.5%
Republican 42%
Other 4.5%

Female 52%
Male 48%

College graduate 36%
Non-college graduate 64%

Responses were collected via SMS by phone. The poll is slightly weighted to account for key demographics including age, ethnicity, education, and gender.

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].