Arkansas Poll results | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Arkansas Poll results

Posted By on Thu, Oct 26, 2006 at 12:01 AM

The University of Arkansas today released its annual Arkansas Poll, which surveys attitudes about statewide political figures and issues.

Cutting to the chase, here's how it has the governor's race:

Beebe: 51 percent
Hutchinson: 38 percent
Other: 1 percent
Don't know/Refused to answer: 9 percent

Last year at this time, Beebe had 47 percent and Hutchinson had 40 percent, with 3 percent answering "Other" and 11 percent "Don't know."

The higher education bonds on this year's general election ballot have the support of 73 percent of the poll's respondents, with only 20 percent opposed. Similarly, 67 percent favored the proposed state constitutional amendment allowing charity bingo, and 27 percent were opposed.

Gov. Mike Huckabee's approval rating dropped to 55 percent from last year's 58 percent, and his disapproval rating increased from 27 percent to 32 percent. U.S. Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor also took big hits over the past year. Her approval dropped from 55 percent to 49 percent and her disapproval rose from 17 percent to 23 percent; his approval declined from 56 percent to 50 percent and his disapproval went up from 12 percent to 21 percent.

President George W. Bush's numbers didn't change much. His approval rating went from 38 percent in 2005 to 36 percent today, and his disapproval increased from 56 percent to 58 percent.

There was little change in popular opinion on key issues like gun control, abortion, and gay marriage and foster parenting. However, an overwhelming 76 percent said Bush should "develop a plan to reduce the emission of gases that may contribute to global warming."

The poll is based on data collected from 761 completed surveys, eight of which were conducted in Spanish. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The full press release, which includes information about methodology, is available after the jump.

Arkansas Poll Probes Election, Beyond
The 2006 Arkansas Poll is a snapshot of Arkansan’s attitudes toward global warming, emergency services, water resources, social issues and the coming election.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The 2006 Arkansas Poll reflects election-year concerns of Arkansans and offers researchers and policymakers a snapshot of Arkansan’s attitudes toward social issues, global warming, 911 emergency services and disaster preparedness, and the state’s water resources.

Politics

“While this year’s Arkansas Poll shows approval ratings for state politicians remaining stable, it appears that national-level political figures are taking a hit in the current political environment,” said Janine Parry, director of the Arkansas Poll and an associate professor of political science in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

Poll results showed Democrat Mike Beebe retaining a substantial lead over Republican Asa Hutchinson in the race for Arkansas governor. Parry called Gov. Huckabee’s approval rating of 55 percent “respectable” after 10 years in office and in a political climate “not particularly embracing of Republicans at the moment.”

Approval ratings for President Bush in Arkansas remain low, as they do nationally.

“It’s interesting to note that the president’s approval ratings are lower in Arkansas than in nearly any other state that cast its electoral votes for Bush in 2004,” Parry said. “That suggests that Arkansas may still be considered a swing state for 2008, despite the wide margin in ’04 for Bush.”

Poll results indicate that both statewide ballot measures should pass by wide margins, with 73 percent favoring the higher education bond measure and 67 percent supporting the amendment legalizing bingo and raffles. However, Parry cautions proponents against complacency.

“We’ve found over the years that the electorate is often somewhat less inclined to approve ballot measures than the polls indicate,” Parry said. “Once in the voting booth and presented with confusing and legalistic text, the default response for many voters is ‘No’.”

Social Issues

Poll results showed stability in attitudes toward hot button social issues such as abortion, gun control and gay and lesbian relationships. Previous research on controversial social issues suggests that personal feelings about an issue are sometimes different from policy preferences.

“In other words,” Parry explained, “while we might not like abortions, for example, and wouldn’t choose one for ourselves, many Americans and Arkansans don’t feel right about making that decision for other people.”

To test this thesis, the Arkansas poll team asked people about foster parenting by gays and lesbians in two different ways. Half of the respondents answered a question meant to tap their personal approval or disapproval of gays and lesbians as foster parents. The other half was asked whether there should be a law to prohibit gay and lesbian foster parents.

“The results were striking,” Parry said. “While two-thirds of Arkansans disapprove of the idea of gay and lesbian foster parenting, we’re evenly split on whether to ban it. Looking at these results and at previous research, we believe the difference is explained at least partly by a kind of libertarian streak in many of us. Part of the gap, however, also may lie in how questions were worded. We hope to examine this further next year.”

Global Warming

The majority of Arkansans – 62 percent – are mostly or completely convinced that global warming is happening, and 44 percent judge it an urgent problem requiring immediate attention.

“To some extent global warming is manifesting as a nonpartisan issue in Arkansas,” said Jessica M. Nolan, a psychology doctoral student and collaborative polling partner. “Although there are differences between respondents from different political parties, it is also true that a majority of respondents from each political party – Democrat, Republican or Independent – supports developing a national plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The poll indicated that many Arkansans are willing to make some changes to reduce emissions. Nearly half of Arkansans were at least somewhat interested in joining a carpool for their commute, compared to only 20 percent of Americans in a nationwide poll conducted in 2005. Arkansans also are willing to pay more at the pump for cleaner gas. A clear majority – 62 percent – favor requiring that all gasoline be formulated to produce lower emissions, even if it adds 5 cents to the price of gasoline. At the same time, only 18 percent favor a tax on gasoline intended to decrease driving and promote sales of more fuel-efficient cars.

Emergency Services and Preparedness

Collaborative partners from the department of information systems in the Sam M. Walton College of Business – Fred Davis, holder of the David D. Glass Chair; Likoebe Maruping, assistant professor; Pam Schmidt, a graduate assistant; and Yerim Kim, an honors undergraduate – contributed questions to the poll about 911 emergency services and disaster preparedness. They learned that nearly 1 in 4 Arkansans had recently used 911 emergency services, and 90 percent of those users were satisfied or very satisfied with the way the call-taker handled their emergency. More than half were very satisfied with the overall 911 services.

While 80 percent of Arkansans view 911 emergency services as closely related to disaster preparedness, 35 percent believed their local communities were somewhat unprepared or not at all prepared for a major disaster. The poll found that the vast majority of respondents – 85 percent – felt that it was important or very important that local community officials increase the level of disaster preparedness for their community.

Water Quality

While water quality was not ranked as a “most important problem” by respondents to the 2006 poll, water quality concerns are likely to grow, according to another Arkansas Poll collaborating research team. UA economists Charles Britton and David Gay with economist Richard Ford of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock posed questions about the availability and quality of water in the state. The results reveal that 77 percent of Arkansans are relatively satisfied with the quality of water delivered to their households. Further, most believe that their water bills are reasonable, although 28 percent reported expensive water costs.

The news was less positive when the questions turned to the future of the state’s rivers and lakes. According to Britton, a strong majority of respondents expressed concern about water-quality deterioration, decreased water quantity and increased water cost.

“If we wish to remain the Natural State,” Britton suggested, “it will be important for all Arkansans that we explore how state and private resources can be used to combat potential deterioration.”

A new question in the water quality segment of the poll dealt with public concern about the potential for terrorist acts to affect the state’s water. Fully three-quarters of Arkansans are either moderately or very concerned about the safety of water supplies.

Methods

The Arkansas Poll was conducted in October by the Survey Research Center at the University of Arkansas and yielded 761 completed surveys from a random sample of adult Arkansans. Eight surveys or 1 percent of the total were conducted in Spanish. The margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The Arkansas Poll has been conducted annually since 1999, with a total of more than 6,000 Arkansans having been interviewed.

“We’re so appreciative of the time and goodwill represented by 8 years and 6,000 interviewees,” Parry said. “The information they’ve helped us accumulate guides researchers and policymakers to better serve the people of Arkansas.”

The 2006 Arkansas Poll is sponsored by the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. The poll was designed and analyzed by political scientists Janine Parry and Bill Schreckhise, in collaboration with researchers in psychology, information systems and economics. Results of previous polls from the years 1999 through 2005 can be accessed online at http://plsc.uark.edu/arkpoll/.

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