Editor’s note: Roby Brock, with our content partner Talk Business, wrote this report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
President Barack Obama’s reversal of opinion on same-sex marriage is unlikely to alter his standing with Arkansas voters, at least in the Fourth Congressional District.
The Fourth District covers all or part of 33 counties in south and western Arkansas, and even snakes up into Northwest Arkansas.
In two new Talk Business-Hendrix College polls, likely Fourth District Democratic and Republican voters were asked:
Q: Same-sex marriage has become an issue of national discussion this week. Do you support civil marriage between two individuals of the same sex?
Only 26% of 418 Fourth District Democrats supported civil marriage for gay couples, while 69% said they opposed it. Roughly 5% said they had no opinion.
Among GOP voters, opinions were even more decisive. Just 6% of 437 Republican primary voters said they favored same-sex marriages, while 92% said they were opposed to it. Only 2% were undecided.
POLITICS OF THE DEBATE
Arkansas voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 that made it unconstitutional for the state to recognize or perform gay marriages or civil unions.
News of Obama’s support drew praise and criticism from Arkansas political leaders on both sides of the issue, including Rep. Kathy Webb, D-Little Rock, who is openly gay, and Jerry Cox with the conservative advocacy group, Family Council.
Gov. Mike Beebe, the state’s popular Democratic Governor, has voiced his opposition to civil marriages for gay couples. He spoke to a group of Stonewall Democrats last year and reiterated his opposition to the concept.
Eric McDaniel, president of the Stonewall Democrats — a caucus of the Democratic Party of Arkansas that advocates for lesbian and gay rights — addressed the controversy last year.
“We believe that this open discussion lays a foundation for progress to come, and the Stonewall Democratic Caucus of Arkansas will continue to facilitate this discussion in an appropriate manner,” McDaniel said. “We are passionate about the rights denied to the LGBT community, but convinced that our contributions to the conversation must be respectful.”
Both polls were conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College on Thursday, May 10, 2012. The Democratic poll, which has a margin of error of +/-4.8%, was completed using IVR survey technology among 418 likely Democratic voters in Arkansas’ Fourth Congressional District.
Participants were selected from a database of district voters who have voted in some or all of the last 5 Democratic primary elections and who affirmatively answered a question that they have early/absentee voted or intended to vote in the Democratic primary on May 22, 2012.
The Republican poll, which has a margin of error of +/-4.7%, was completed using IVR survey technology among 437 likely GOP voters in Arkansas’ Fourth Congressional District.