Economics concern Arkansans
While the 13th annual Arkansas Poll finds the state’s residents more concerned about the economy than ever, 74 percent of respondents expressed optimism about the direction of the state. Approval ratings of public officials were mixed heading into an election year.
A full summary report of the 2011 poll results and data from past Arkansas Polls is available on the Arkansas Poll website.
“We’re seeing concern about the economy at the highest levels by far in the 13-year history of the Arkansas Poll,” said Janine Parry, professor of political science at the University of Arkansas. “The economy has led the list of problems for Arkansans since the 2007 poll, but this year’s results were striking. Fully 67 percent of all respondents and 70 percent of the ‘very likely’ voters named the economy the most important issue facing Arkansas.”
The survey’s margin of error statewide is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, meaning that researchers are 95 percent confident that the actual result lies within 3.5 percentage points in either direction of the result the poll’s sample produced.
Other major issues
A few Arkansas Poll highlights:
- Other issues, such as education, health care and drugs, were named most pressing by five percent or fewer respondents.
- Taxes were cited as the most important issue by only three percent of respondents. Even in the face of unease about the economy, A state bond issue to help the state’s highway system that is based on revenue from existing fuel taxes was favored by 63 percent of all respondents and 65 percent of ‘very likely’ voters
- Gov. Mike Beebe continued to receive high ratings with 72 percent of respondents approving of how he handles his job.
- Approval ratings for the state’s U.S. senators, John Boozman and Mark Pryor, held close to 2010 levels. Of ‘very likely’ voters, 44 percent approved of Boozman’s performance, and 48 percent approved of how Pryor handles his job.
- Among ‘very likely’ voters in Arkansas, 31 percent continue to approve of Barack Obama’s performance as president, the same as in 2010, while the disapproval rating moved from 62 to 64 percent.
- Obama’s approval rating among ‘very likely’ Democratic voters was 63 percent, compared to only seven percent among Republicans and 22 percent among Independents.
- While support for Obama was stronger among Arkansans whose financial situation was the same or better than last year over respondents who had lost ground, those with a lower household income were more likely to approve of his performance than those with a higher income. Of respondents who reported a household income of $50,000 or less, 34 percent approved of Obama’s performance, compared with 26 percent of respondents with higher incomes.
Politics in Arkansas
This is the second year the Arkansas Poll results suggest a move away from Democratic Party identification and toward either the GOP or no affiliation, in contrast to the stability seen for the preceding 10 years. Still, with the presidential primaries pending, this year’s poll found small gains by both Republicans and Democrats.
At the same time, a significant percentage of ‘very likely’ voters migrated out of the Independent column: 41 percent of ‘very likely’ voters called themselves Independent in 2010, and the total fell to 31 percent this year.
“There’s simply a lot of volatility in partisan identification among Arkansans right now,” Parry said. “Both parties’ affiliates have returned to relatively normal levels, but independents remain rightward-leaning, which is likely to again advantage Republican candidates in 2012.”
All the information and graphic is courtesy of the University Relations department at the University of Arkansas
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