How red are we? 

Election results in Arkansas were discouraging for Democrats and progressive voters.

Election results in Arkansas were discouraging for Democrats and progressive voters.

Republicans swept statewide offices with 60-plus percent votes. Energetic, well-informed and likable Democratic candidates for Congress were swamped, save Clarke Tucker in the 2nd District, by votes greater than Trump got against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Two Republicans were defeated in state legislative races, but those gains were offset by narrow defeats of two incumbent Democrats, including the state Democratic Party chair (!), Michael John Gray, in a Delta (!!) district.

For partisan good news, you could perhaps look at Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson's decisive re-election victory. It's a nonpartisan race, technically. But a Republican PAC spent more than $1 million in ads trashing Goodson and she faced a candidate, David Sterling, whose ads firmly linked him with Donald Trump and Governor Hutchinson. If he'd run with an "R" next to his name, I fear the outcome might have been different. There is no other way to explain the big votes for unknown statewide candidates, at least one demonstrably less qualified than his opponent for the office (secretary of state) being sought.

So it's hopeless, right? Arkansas is bright red Republican, reflexively so. Yes, but ... .

There's no official count, but available evidence from county clerks who counted votes unofficially suggests Arkansas voters would have defeated the amendment to limit malpractice and negligence lawsuit judgments had it made the ballot. This was endorsed by the Republican legislature. Similarly, had the court not ditched the term limits amendment on a petition technicality, it would have been approved 3-1 by voters, though Republicans bellyached that it would have been the ruination of the fine government that gave us the Ecclesia scandal and other federal indictments. Voters also increased the minimum wage, something the corporate-controlled legislature would never do.

A state regularly proclaimed a bastion of Christianity and family values followed its 2016 approval of medical marijuana with an expansion of casino gambling. What's next? Legalized dancing?

There's still more evidence we may want Republican politicians, but not necessarily the reflexive agenda they declare as near Biblical GOP truth. See the University of Arkansas's annual poll, released shortly before the election. Health care topped the list of concerns of those polled. The legislature is busy eating away at coverage, particularly for poor people.

Abortion? Only 38 percent want more restrictions. A majority thinks Roe v. Wade should not be overturned.

Same-sex marriage? Big change from past polls. Respondents now say, 49-46, such marriages should be recognized.

Gay rights? Eighty-eight percent say gays and lesbians should have equal rights. The Arkansas legislature has repudiated this by legalizing discrimination under the pretext of personal religious preference.

Guns? Only 10 percent want fewer gun controls. Forty-four percent want them stricter. Forty-three percent say existing controls are enough.

Climate change? Another big change, undoubtedly helped by abundant evidence. A plurality, 46-44, now thinks global warming or climate change poses a threat in their lifetimes.

Broad majorities think more needs to be done to achieve racial and gender equity.

Respondents identified 32-28 percent as Republicans, but among professed independents they leaned R 39-25 percent, a tendency reflected in vote results. Only 47 percent described themselves as "conservative," however, with 20 percent liberal and 28 percent moderate.

I could live with a Republican legislature that reflected an acknowledgment of such nuanced attitudes. Alas ... .

One final alas: Poll respondents gave Donald Trump a 50 percent approval rating.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Newspaper transformation

    Forty-six years ago this week I visited Little Rock in hopes of getting a job at the Arkansas Gazette. Then-Managing Editor Robert Douglas was friendly, but said (with good reason) that I was a little green.
    • Dec 20, 2018
  • Hope and change LR

    While I was away, Frank Scott Jr. won a historic victory in a runoff with Baker Kurrus to succeed Mark Stodola as Little Rock mayor.
    • Dec 13, 2018
  • A real mayor

    Baker Kurrus is trying to brand himself as an agent for change as mayor of Little Rock, but labors under a handicap.
    • Nov 22, 2018
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Yes, he's a liar. Yes, he's a stooge. But too few care.

    If the recently released Mueller Report proves nothing else, it’s that almost everything Trump derided as “Fake News” regarding his campaign’s conniving with Russian operatives during the 2016 election has proven to be remarkably accurate.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Bernie, the millionaire Socialist

    • love ya, Gene, but the Cold War is over. Young people don't have the same…

    • on April 23, 2019
  • Re: 'Exonerated'

    • Sounds like Webster is giving the definition of the mainstream media.

    • on April 22, 2019
  • Re: Bernie, the millionaire Socialist

    • Sooner or later you will run out of other peoples money

    • on April 22, 2019

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation