A new poll released this week found that a majority of Arkansans believe that LGBT individuals should have equal rights to employment and housing, but not adoptions and marriage.
The 19th annual Arkansas Poll, a state-wide telephone poll designed and analyzed by UA political science professor Janine Parry, released its findings on Tuesday morning. The poll has a track record over its 19-year history of coming within two points of actual election outcomes.
According to the results, 84 percent of Arkansans believe gay and lesbian individuals should have equal rights to employment, and 78 percent believe they should have equal rights to housing. Only 43 of Arkansans surveyed, however, believe those individuals should get equal treatment in adoption, and even less support gay marriage (35 percent).
Briana Kordsmeier, public policy graduate student, noted that the findings are considerably different than attitudes about these issues nationally.
“Support for housing and employment rights has been overwhelming nationally – at least 85 percent – for at least 10 years,” Kirdsmeier said. “Marriage and adoption rights also now have the support of a strong majority of Americans. The average Arkansan is far more reluctant than the average American to support equal treatment for gays and lesbians in family arrangements in particular.”
Arkansans still cited the economy as the largest issue facing the state today (28 percent), followed by healthcare (14 percent), drugs (8 percent) and crime (6 percent).
The poll also asked Arkansans about prominent political figures in the state. 62 percent of respondents said they approved of governor Asa Hutchinson, 39 percent approved of Senator John Boozman, and 48 percent said they approved of Senator Tom Cotton. Also, 47 percent of Arkansans said they approve of president Donald Trump to 40 percent that disapprove.
When asked whether they supported the death penalty for murder convictions, 72 percent of respondents indicated that they did. Parry noted that that issue is another one in which Arkansans’ attitudes deviate dramatically from nationwide patterns.
“Nationally, support for the death penalty has been declining since the mid-1990s,” Parry said. “In fact the Pew Research Center now shows that just under half of all Americans support the death penalty.
31% of respondents said they favored stricter gun control laws, versus 14% who wanted to see them become less strict. 52% of respondents said they favored no change in gun control laws.
The poll added a new question this year with regard to campaign finance. More than half of those who responded (55 percent) said the US system of funding political campaigns should be “completely rebuilt,” something that matches results found in a 2015 New York Times / CBS poll on the same subject.
62 percent of respondents in the state answered “no” when asked if they believe that global warming, or climate change, will pose a serious threat to them or their way of life in their lifetime. Only 30 percent of respondents answered “yes.”
Arkansas continues to identify as a more red than blue state. 32 percent of likely voters identified as Republicans, with 25 percent as Democrats and 35 percent as Independents.
The poll is sponsored by the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society, a research center in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Arkansas. It was conducted statewide between Oct. 12 and Oct. 22 through 801 telephone interviews, including 320 interviews over cell phones.
The full results of the Arkansas Poll, including summary reports and additional information on the methodology used to conduct the research, is available at fulbright.uark.edu.