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story.lead_photo.caption FILE PHOTO ANDY SHUPE Mitch McCorkle, longtime fire chief for West Fork, and his wife, Henryetta, vote in a special election to decide the mayor of West Fork at The Frank Wenzel Community Center. - Photo by Andy Shupe

Arkansans feel good about the direction of their state and they're pleased with the state's top Republican leaders, according to the 20th annual Arkansas Poll.

With unemployment low and wages improving, they no longer list the economy as the "most important issue facing people in Arkansas today." They're also supportive of a ballot measure to raise Arkansas' minimum wage.

The poll also showed shifts to the left on gay rights, abortion, gun control and global warming.

This year's survey included more college-educated Arkansans than a year ago. Forty-seven percent were college graduates in 2018, versus 35 percent in 2017.

The University of Arkansas' Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society in Fayetteville released the results Thursday, five days before Election Day.

For the third-straight year, more Arkansans identified as Republicans than as Democrats. For the 20th-straight year, conservatives heavily outnumbered liberals. Forty-seven percent called themselves conservative; 20 percent, liberal; and 28 percent, moderate.

Asked to name the state's most important issue, 23 percent said health care, followed by drugs (21 percent); education (16 percent); and the economy (15 percent).

Other topics mentioned included politicians and politics at 13 percent and crime at 9 percent. Four percent mentioned other issues, were undecided or did not know.

Arkansas voters, who favored Donald Trump in the presidential race over Democrat Hillary Clinton 60.6 percent to 33.7 percent in 2016, continue to give him positive marks.

In the survey, 50 percent approve of the president; 46 disapprove and 4 percent didn't know or wouldn't say. In last year's survey, 47 percent of Arkansans approved of Trump, 40 percent disapproved and 14 percent declined to take sides.

Among very likely voters, 53 percent approved of Trump this year, 44 percent disapproved and 3 percent didn't voice an opinion. Last year, 50 percent of very likely voters approved, 41 percent disapproved and 9 percent didn't take sides.

Those surveyed were faring better economically. The median household income for those surveyed was $50,000 this year. Statewide, the figure is $42,336, the survey stated, citing U.S. Census Bureau estimates between 2012 and 2016 and are based on 2016 dollars.

Among "very likely voters," 67 percent favored Issue 5, which would increase the minimum wage from $8.50 to $9 on Jan. 1, $10 on Jan. 1, 2020 and $11 on Jan. 1, 2021. The ballot measure faced opposition from 29 percent. Voters who said they don't know or refused to answer weren't listed and were "removed from the analysis."

In a written statement, Arkansans for a Fair Wage campaign manager Kristin Foster said she wasn't surprised by the polling results.

"These numbers illustrate the broad support for the issue we've seen all across the state," she said. "Arkansans from Ft. Smith to Texarkana agree that no one who works full time should have to live in poverty."

Arkansans for a Strong Economy chairman Randy Zook warned that passage of Issue 5 would harm Arkansans.

"The fact is, Arkansas already has a higher minimum wage than any of our surrounding states. This would be the second increase in only four years, and it would leave us with one of the highest rates in the country," he said in a written statement. "In the end, this measure will result in higher prices for consumers and fewer jobs for Arkansas workers."

Issue 5 isn't the only measure that enjoys broad backing, the Arkansas Poll found.

Very likely voters were also supportive of Issue 2, which would require Arkansans to present a photo identification in order to vote. Twenty-four percent of very likely voters oppose the proposed amendment.

In the governor's race, 59 percent of very likely voters said they are "more likely" to vote for Republican incumbent Asa Hutchinson, while 35 percent said they are "more likely" to favor Democrat Jared Henderson. Six percent were more likely to support "other," the survey stated. (Libertarian Mark West also appears on the Nov. 6 ballot.)

On social issues, Arkansans generally leaned to the right. But the survey showed noticeable shifts.

In 2017, 45 percent supported making it more difficult for women to get an abortion. This year, only 38 percent want tougher restrictions.

Last year, 35 percent said same sex-marriage should be recognized. This year, 49 percent took that position.

In 2017, 30 percent said they think climate change "will pose a serious threat" to them or their way of life during their lifetime. This year, that climbed to 46 percent.

One year ago, 38 percent said they favor "stricter gun control." This year, 44 percent backed tougher gun laws.

University of Arkansas political science professor Janine Parry, who designed and analyzed the annual survey again this year, said the data suggest Arkansas voters are slowly "edging toward the Republican brand."

But that doesn't mean the state is moving to the right on the issues, she noted.

"On the one hand Arkansas is more Republican than it's ever been. On the other hand, the state's [Republican] voters don't necessarily show uniform support for the party's policy platform," she said.

No matter their policy preferences, survey participants gave positive marks to Hutchinson and the state's two U.S. Republican senators -- John Boozman of Rogers and Tom Cotton of Dardanelle.

Sixty-one percent said they approved of Hutchinson, while 23 percent disapproved. Another 17 percent were undecided or declined to answer.

Forty-three percent approved of Boozman, the state's senior senator. Another 32 percent disapproved, while 25 percent didn't venture an opinion.

Cotton, meanwhile, received approval from 46 percent and disapproval from 37 percent, with 17 percent undecided or declining to say.

A majority of Arkansans -- 52 percent -- said their financial situation is about the same this year as it was a year ago. Thirty-five percent said it has improved; 12 percent said it has gotten worse. Fifty percent expect their financial circumstances won't change much in the year to come. Those expecting things to get better outnumbered those who expect things to get worse, 40 percent to 9 percent.

When it comes to party affiliation, 32 percent identified as Republicans, 32 percent as independents and 28 percent as Democrats.

The statewide survey of 800 people was conducted between Oct. 1 and Oct. 28 and had a margin of error of 3.5 percent. In addition, another 400 interviews were conducted with residents of Benton and Washington counties.

Metro on 11/02/2018

Print Headline: State voters still OK with GOP, Arkansas Poll indicates

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  • RBear
    November 2, 2018 at 6:25 a.m.

    The poll provided some very interesting results for Arkansas' elected official. Take for example, gun control. While Arkansas voters are still predominantly Republican, they favor stricter gun control than less gun control by a little over 3 to 1. That means that any legislation introduced next year to relax gun laws runs counter to the will of the voter.
    On LGBT issues, another segment of the poll, the majority support same-sex marriage and overwhelmingly support fair housing and jobs protections for LGBT individuals. That runs counter to the opinions of several right wingers in here which shows how out of touch they are with Arkansans. It's also a sign that those legislators who attempt to restrict the rights of individuals run counter to the opinions of Arkansans.
    With regards to the minimum wage, Arkansas voters will overwhelmingly pass the amendment to raise the wage for the lower tier of workers. According to many studies including one released recently, this will improve the economic condition of the state since it will infuse more money into the economy through increased wages. Randy Zook's counter is not based in fact and just throws out unproven right wing rhetoric.
    The bottom line of this poll is that the vast majority of Arkansans are more in line with the positions of the Democratic Party, but have been stuck in a cycle of voting Republican since about 2010. It also shows the independent segment of the voter population is strong in the state, giving more opportunity for moderate Democrats like Clarke Tucker to emerge and create serious challenge to Republicans. It's why you see Hill blasting the airwaves with ads, not because he loves to spend money but because his folks are telling him the truth that Tucker is a serious challenger.
    Republicans who continue to run on the old lines of God, guns, and gays will start to be phased out as voters get tired of that being their only accomplishments. Voters have already spoken that health care is important, not immigration. One thing to note about this survey is the increase in respondents on cell phones. The average age is still high which indicates that if the poll reached more younger voters, the results could skew even more progressive.

  • WGT
    November 2, 2018 at 6:57 a.m.

    Whatever your party choice- you better realize this administration is a train wreck about to happen and republicans are gleefully anticipating taking the rest of us over a deadly cliff with them. Wake up, grow up. Be an adult, Vote, Vote Blue.

  • PopMom
    November 2, 2018 at 7:27 a.m.

    Whatever happens, come January, our "leaders" in Washington need to start tackling the debt which is now much larger thanks to the tax cuts for the multimillionaires. The Republicans want to cut SS and Medicare. The Democrats want to raise taxes on the multimillionaires. Something has got to give. It also will be interesting to see what is in Mueller's report and whether the Republicans will stand by him or cut him loose.

  • 23cal
    November 2, 2018 at 7:48 a.m.

    "The poll also showed shifts to the left on gay rights, abortion, gun control and global warming." That's good.

    "This year's survey included more college-educated Arkansans than a year ago. Forty-seven percent were college graduates in 2018, versus 35 percent in 2017." Probably the reason for the shift to the left on the above issues. Education and knowledge make a difference.

    "On the one hand Arkansas is more Republican than it's ever been. On the other hand, the state's [Republican] voters don't necessarily show uniform support for the party's policy platform,"
    Tribal voting for what they know is a bad position on issues. No wonder Arkansas is last in just about every category.

  • JMort69
    November 2, 2018 at 7:48 a.m.

    Why are voters so frightened to step away from these dying parties? Why are they so frightened to break with the herd? Why are they so frightened to think, rather than let their brains coast and do the easy thing? I still maintain that the majority of people now in these parties are beyond a certain age. They simply cannot imagine not having a party affiliation. The party's organizations on campuses around the nation are not attracting younger voters. Maybe that will the turning point. I can tell you one thing, the tired old rhetoric of guns, abortion and religion are losing their impetus. Politicians don't even try to run on anything else. They think the voters are so unsophisticated that we are all one issue voters. The fact is, guns, abortion and religion aren't showing up in any polls as the top priorities of voters. The politicians' spotlighting of these issues is just another example of how they cater to a small, radical base. They somehow seem to miss that the one issue voter base is shrinking and no longer has the numbers to win. According to the above poll, we Independents hold the key and we vote based on candidates, not some tired party affiliation. Based on the quality of the members of our current legislature, is it any wonder they don't get it? All they have concentrated on is stealing from us. The only way we will save our state and our nation is to abandon the long-held belief that we have to belong to one or the other dying, old parties. It is the parties that roil the waters and keep people constantly in a state of us V them. Do any of their members think of themselves as Americans first? It certainly doesn't appear that way. By pledging their allegiance to one of the parties above America, they are trampling on our constitution and all the people who have died supporting it. It's time to take a step back and do what is right for our nation before these radical parties destroy it.

  • rdh61
    November 2, 2018 at 7:54 a.m.

    It’s hard to take anything this poll too seriously when the percentage of those surveyed jumped to 47 percent college graduates in 2018, versus 35 percent in 2017. It’s not likely that the Arkansas population changed that much in one year. This could greatly skew any number of results.

  • skeptic1
    November 2, 2018 at 8:25 a.m.

    Yeah lefties keep whistling past the graveyard. Over 200,000 more jobs added in October, why would anyone vote for a Democrat? Jobs not's that simple.

    November 2, 2018 at 9:12 a.m.

    Arkansas... purple, but ready for a coat of Blue Wash...

    November 2, 2018 at 9:18 a.m.

    Many "no opinion" respondents, on doubt, support core Democratic values but will not admit to it.

  • GeneralMac
    November 2, 2018 at 9:21 a.m.

    (4th paragraph)

    They made it sound as though in 2017 , 35% of Arkansans had a college degree.
    In 2018, 47% of Arkansans had a college degree.

    In actuality, if 47% of respondents were college grads, the poll is meaningless as it sure is slanted.

    I did an internet search of........." what percent of Arkansans have college degrees"......and the answer was 21.5 % in 2016.

    But, I will let RBear wet his pants in glee as he touts a poll that is so badly skewed it is meaningless.