State prefers Trump, Cotton in newly released Arkansas Poll

Courtesy graphic

The 2020 election is fast approaching, and a new poll released today could offer a preview of what the results might look like in Arkansas this year.

The 22nd annual Arkansas Poll, a state-wide telephone poll designed and analyzed by UA political science professor Janine Parry, released its findings on Wednesday morning.

This year’s poll focused on the upcoming presidential and U.S. Senate races, statewide ballot measures, elected officials’ approval ratings in handling the coronavirus outbreak and support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The poll also included questions on abortion, gun laws, global warming, “intercultural competence” seeking to understand respondents capacity to recognize, acknowledge and respect cultural differences.

Data from this year’s Arkansas Poll / Screen capture

Janine Parry, professor of political science at the U of A, who designs and analyses the poll each year said she believes the concern over politics currently reflects the divided state of the country.

“If Republicans and Democrats agree on just one thing in 2020, it’s that the republic is in bad shape,” Parry said.

The 2020 poll examined two statewide high-profile races, including the upcoming presidential race and found that the majority of Arkansans favor the incumbent. Support for Republicans in Arkansas has been steadily increasing in recent years.

“While it appears President Trump will win fewer states nationwide in 2020 then he did in 2016, Arkansas is likely to be one of the few states in which he actually increases his vote share,” Parry said. “This speaks to Arkansas’s recent switch to the Republican brand, a wholesale reversal of fortune in just a decade’s time.”

Further evidence of this is fact that the percentage of respondents that identify as Republicans in Arkansas reached an all-time high of 44 percent, while those identifying as democrats reached an all-time low of 20 percent.

29 percent of those who responded to the poll said they identify as independents, but all but 15 percent of those said they feel close to one of the major parties, Parry said, meaning there are less swing voters than have existed in the past.

“In short, not only has Arkansas now fully realigned (about 25 years after most of her southern peers), but – as we see nationally – almost no one is left in the middle,” Parry said.

Respondents in Arkansas largely approved of the presidents handling of the coronavirus, with 59 percent saying the present was doing an excellent or good job. State officials got lesser marks on handling of the pandemic, with 54 percent rating the performance as excellent or good to 44 percent fair or poor. Local officals got the highest marks, with a 60 percent excellent or good rating to 37 percent fair and poor.

Just 44 percent of those surveyed said the strongly or somewhat supported the Black Lives Matter movement, while 52 percent said they opposed it.

33 percent of respondents said they believe climate change will pose a serious threatto you or your way of life in your lifetime, up from 30 percent in 2019 but down from the 46 percent that responded in 2018.

The survey found that 30 percent of Arkansans favor stricter gun laws to 17 percent that would like to see less regulation. 51 percent of respondents said they favored no changes to existing gun laws.

The poll questions that dealt with “intercultural competence” to measure “capacity to recognize, acknowledge and respect cultural differences” found that Arkansans with higher levels of education and income showed higher levels of competence, as did those that identified as moderates or liberals, the study said.

The poll was conducted between Oct. 9 and 21 through 804 telephone interviews with randomly selected adult Arkansans. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent, though the poll has typically been very accurate in predicting election results, typically coming within 2 points of the actual election day outcomes on candidate contests.

A full summary of the 2020 Arkansas Poll can be found here.

2020 Arkansas Poll results

Presidential Race
Trump: 65%
Biden: 32%
Other: 3%

U.S. Senate Race
Cotton: 75%
Harrington: 20%
Other: 5%

Amendment Extending Half-Cent Sales Tax for Roads and Highways
Favor: 62%
Oppose: 38%

Amendment to Change Term Limits for State Legislators
Favor: 60%
Oppose: 40%

Amendment to Change Requirements for Ballot Initiatives and Referrals
Favor: 41%
Oppose: 59%