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Let us now introduce the typical Arkansas Republican voter.

She is white, 45 or older. She went to college but didn’t finish. She goes to church every Sunday.

She thinks gun laws are fine as they are. She will vote for Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s re-nomination. She opposes abortion, but not as much as she likes the job Donald Trump is doing.

That’s based on valuable new poll data released this week from the partnership of Talk Business and Politics and Hendrix College.

To get a solid and credible poll on the only statewide primary race of interest on the ballot May 22—Jan Morgan’s far-right challenge to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on the GOP side—the pollsters dug deep. Their automated calls produced a rare statewide sample of nearly 700 respondents filtered out as likely Republican primary voters. They identified themselves as having voted in at least two of the last three GOP primaries.

The above description of a typical Arkansas Republican voter is based on the survey’s demographic and cross-tabulated data: 89 percent of the respondents were white, 55 percent were female; 69 percent go to church at least once a week, and 54 percent do not have a college degree though 32 percent went to college for a while.

Respondents favored Hutchinson over Morgan by 57.5-30.5 and thought by 79 percent that guns either should remain regulated only as they are or even be less regulated.

As for the opening juxtaposition of the Arkansas Republican positions on abortion and Trump, that was based on these findings: By 72 percent, respondents thought abortion should be illegal either in all or most cases, which, while overwhelming, was less dominant than Trump’s job-approval rating, which soared at 86 percent favorable.

And that is why every elected Republican officeholder in Arkansas cowers before this president and utters not even the mildest syllable of disparagement.

My guess is that the number would be lower if these Arkansas Republicans had been polled on whether they approved of the personal behavior of the president.

My wholly personal theory is that they would tell you they wished Trump didn’t tweet so much or communicate in the tone he sometimes chooses, and that, yeah, he’s no saint. But they’d say Democratic presidents weren’t saints either but got protected by agents of the liberal media, who are largely to blame for Trump’s testiness and tone by harassing him on matters for which Democrats historically have been given passes.

But as for the job he’s doing … well, the Supreme Court now has a new conservative justice, taxes are cut, regulations are relaxed, the economy is between all right and good, the bombs in Syria hit their targets and North Korea is coming to the table.

The Russian investigation, this Michael Cohen affair in Manhattan—I’m figuring the typical Arkansas Republican doesn’t give a flip, either deeming all of that contrived or, even if true, immaterial to the job Trump is doing.

All have sinned and fallen short, they’ll explain.

We should keep all this in context. A little more than a third of Arkansas voters call themselves Republicans. The others are split between independents and Democrats. The deciders in Arkansas always have been, and shall remain, the independents, who, last we checked, favored Trump significantly.

There is one other interesting finding: These same Republicans say, by a plurality of 41-25, that they like and support the Arkansas Works program.

That is the private-option form of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. The number is encouraging. This smartest and best public policy program of my four decades of covering the Arkansas Legislature … it just might survive, unless Trump and Republicans kill it in Washington, no doubt with Arkansas Republicans’ incongruous approval.

The other finding was not news. Arkansas Republicans would rather cut taxes and then make the spending fit into the tax cut rather than find spending cuts before cutting taxes by the reduced amount.

That preceding paragraph is simple modern Republicanism. Tax cuts mainly for the rich come before spending mainly for the poor. That’s what makes the Arkansas Works number, which goes against that grain, so encouraging.

The prevailing message in all this information is that the American divide—the Arkansas divide as well—has never been greater.

On the very Monday when these poll findings were released, I visited with a group of Little Rock progressives at their invitation. They wanted me to talk about how they might best contest the nation’s calamitous plunge under this failed and disgraceful presidency, the one Arkansas Republicans embrace at an 86 percent rate.

One idea would be to study this poll to begin to try to understand the mind of the opposing and ever-remote tribe.

They’re not deplorable. They’re just really, really different from progressives.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

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  • mozarky2
    April 25, 2018 at 4:22 a.m.

    Booming economy, more money in our pockets, consumer and business confidence at record highs, black and Hispanic unemployment at record lows...yeah, that's a calamitous plunge alright; for the dem party.
    And, yes, we Normals are QUITE different from "progressives"!

  • RBear
    April 25, 2018 at 6:14 a.m.

    Maintenance economy by Trump carrying forward the Obama economic boom, market corrected yesterday, and unemployment numbers essentially stagnant for the past several months and expected to stay the same for several months ahead. Yea, that's a "great" message by Trumpsters. But then again, it doesn't take much for them to like when they are underachievers to start with.
    ...
    Oh, and calling yourself "normal" just shows how ignorant you can be.

  • mozarky2
    April 25, 2018 at 6:43 a.m.

    RB, the behaviors you engage in are NOT considered normal.
    And I know of no one on this forum more ignorant than you.

  • RBear
    April 25, 2018 at 6:47 a.m.

    But looking at John's column, his points are accurate. If Democrats ever plan to really make a strong showing statewide, they need to learn to speak to the independent voters who ride jsut right of center of the road. Now, that doesn't mean falling over in some Democratic strongholds like Pulaski County. But it does mean that they need to look long and hard at how they play in places like Saline, Faulkner, and Washington counties.
    ...
    Clarke Tucker is one who is learning to thread the needle this election and seems to be doing a good job of it. Of course, the challenge he is facing is the growth of Saline County which recorded a 42% growth since 2010. It is Hill's firewall defense at remaining in office and one that will require more work to crack. But it is doable along with Faulkner County.

  • PopMom
    April 25, 2018 at 7:31 a.m.

    Democrats can reach these conservatives better by educating them on the environment and health issues. Most of these conservative women are mothers and care about the welfare of their children and the quality of the schools. Everybody knows somebody with cancer or who has a child with autism. Democrats need to do a better job of educating people about the dangers of chemicals and pollution. Pruitt needs to be the poster child of the Republican Party. Why isn't the Arkansas Congressional delegation doing something about Pruitt and his profiting from lobbyists? Why does the Arkansas Congressional delegation say nothing about the financial waste of so many cabinet officials flying private jets etc.? The Democrats should be highlighting these issues.

  • RBear
    April 25, 2018 at 7:42 a.m.

    Moz maybe not normal ... to you. Then again, maybe you’re not normal and the rest of the world is. Hmmm. A quandary we have ourselves in determining who’s normal.

  • Rightside
    April 25, 2018 at 7:55 a.m.

    The strongest Democratic areas of the country are along the East and West Coasts, whereas Republicans tend to be more concentrated in the South and Midwest. Unmarried women vote Democrat about 62 percent of the time, while married women tend to be evenly split between the parties. Gays, lesbians and bisexuals support Democratic candidates around 70 percent of the time. Democrats have a huge advantage (63 percent) with voters earning less than $15,000 per year. About half of Democrats express satisfaction with their personal financial situation, compared with 61 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Independents.
    A review of the 20 richest Americans, as listed by Forbes Magazine, found that 60 percent affiliate with the Democratic Party, including the top three individuals: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison. Among the riches families, the Democratic advantage rises even higher, to 75 percent. Democrats have seen a significant decrease in their level of religious participation, while Republican numbers have remained consistent. Republicans tend to give more to charity, while Democrats support publicly funded assistance programs. This could also be explained, in part, by Democrats’ lack of religious devotion.
    Under the nation’s calamitous plunge under this failed and disgraceful presidency as Brummett says nearly half a million 480,000 more black workers are employed compared to one year ago. The number of people collecting food stamps has declined by more than two million. Nato is stronger, fourteen states have set new records for low unemployment rates in the last year. Stock market up 20 percent since election,
    consumers' overall assessment of the economy is still good, it actually improved in April.

  • RobertBolt
    April 25, 2018 at 8:30 a.m.

    It is not mere coincidence that the great majority of states most reliant on Federal tax dollars to help them deal with a broad range of fundamental social and educational shortcomings are states with the largest Republican majorities.

  • TimberTopper
    April 25, 2018 at 8:46 a.m.

    mozzy, normal? LOL! LOL!

  • mozarky2
    April 25, 2018 at 8:52 a.m.

    PM, the dims are too busy importing more dim voters to compensate for their plummeting support among normal people.
    Now, they're even bringing up reparations to compensate for their plummeting support among blacks.
    The next thing you know, they'll be filing lawsuits against the GOP to have the presidency awarded to Hillary...oh, wait...

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