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McCain tops in Arkansas, UA poll finds

By The Associated Press

This article was published October 23, 2008 at 6:11 p.m.

Republican John McCain appears to be the favorite among Arkansans in the presidential race over Democrat Barack Obama, a poll released Tuesday shows.

The poll also showed a majority of Arkansans favoring a proposed state-run lottery and opposing a prohibition on unmarried and same-sex couples as adoptive or foster parents.

The annual Arkansas Poll by the University of Arkansas showed that 49 percent of those polled said they would have voted for McCain and 36 percent for Obama if the presidential election had been held on the day they were questioned. Among registered voters polled, McCain had 51 percent support while Obama stayed at 36 percent.

McCain's lead grew to 53 percent among respondents who identified themselves as "very likely" voters, while Obama stayed at 36 percent, according to poll director Janine Parry.

With a sample of 1,628 completed surveys out of 3,786 people called between Oct. 1 and Oct. 21, the poll's margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. Eleven percent of respondents in the poll were surveyed by cell phone.

The annual poll showed that Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat who was inaugurated in 2007, has a 74 percent approval rating among Arkansans - the highest any governor has received in the poll's 10-year history. President Bush's approval rating had sunk again to a new lowest-level-ever, 27 percent. Bush's approval rating last year in the state was 30 percent.

The Arkansas poll is directed by Parry, an associate professor of political science at the university's flagship campus at Fayetteville. The surveys were conducted by the university's Survey Research Center.

The poll showed that McCain has stronger support within his party in the state, with 90 percent of Republicans supporting the Arizona senator. Obama, however, had support of 67 support of Democrats - a gap that pollsters attributed to Hillary Rodham Clinton's popularity in Arkansas.

Fifty-four percent of those polled said they would have voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton if she had been a nominee for president. Clinton, who served as the state's first lady for 12 years, overwhelmingly won the state's Democratic primary in February.

The poll indicated that the nation's financial crisis has put economic issues at the top of the minds of the state's voters, with 56 percent of those polled saying the economy was the most important issue facing the state today. Fifteen percent said health care and 10 percent said education were the top issues.

The poll also showed that a majority of Arkansans support creating a state-run lottery. Sixty-five percent said they support a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot authorizing a state lottery for college scholarships, while 33 percent said they were opposed.

A proposed initiated act that would ban unmarried and same sex couples from becoming adoptive or foster parents saw little support in the poll, with 55 percent of those surveyed opposing the measure. Thirty-eight percent said they favor the ban on the ballot.

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