If results of the 14th annual Arkansas Poll play out on Nov. 6, then Arkansans will overwhelmingly vote for Mitt Romney, will support the highway tax plan and will oppose the medical marijuana initiative.
The poll, conducted by the University of Arkansas, showed that “very likely voters” prefer Gov. Mitt Romney to President Barack Obama, 58% to 31%.
“To the surprise of no one, there’s at least a 20 point gap between Obama and Romney among Arkansas voters,” poll director Janine Parry said in a statement. “A more interesting finding may be the continued enthusiasm for Gov. Mike Beebe. Since 2007, approval of Gov. Beebe has never dipped below 70 percent. That level of support for a Democratic governor in a Southern state is remarkable in this political climate.”
In the 2012 poll, there was little change in the approval ratings for other elected officials over the 2011 ratings. Arkansans are generally positive about the way their U.S. senators are handling the job: 45% of very likely voters approve of the performance of John Boozman, and 53% approve of Mark Pryor’s performance.
When asked about life in Arkansas, 73% of poll respondents agreed, “Arkansas is generally headed in the right direction.”
As in past years, the economy leads the list of important issues for Arkansans. When asked to choose from a list of the issues most frequently cited in last year’s poll, 47% of Arkansans named the economy as their chief concern. Following at a distance were health care at 15%, drugs at 12% and education at 11%. Taxes and immigration were in the single digits.
BALLOT ITEMS, MEDICAID
The poll surveyed Arkansans about support for two measures that will appear on the November ballot: the first to increase the state sales tax to fund road construction and the second to legalize the medical use of marijuana. Among very likely voters, 53% favor the sales tax measure and 42% oppose.
When it comes to permitting the medical use of marijuana in Arkansas for certain conditions, 53% of very likely voters oppose the measure and 43% favor it.
Each year the Arkansas Poll asks Arkansans their opinion on some current issues. For the first time this year, the poll asked questions related to the expansion of Medicaid and to the DREAM Act.
The health care law allows states to expand Medicaid to provide health insurance to more low income people, and the poll question went on to say: “The federal government will initially pay the entire cost of this expansion, and after several years, Arkansas will pay 10% and the federal government will pay 90%. Arkansas must decide whether to go ahead with this expansion.”
In response, 45% supported keeping Medicaid as is, with no addition federal funding and no change in who is covered. Expanding Medicaid was supported by 43%.
Regarding the case of people who were brought to Arkansas from foreign countries when they were young and are not here legally but went on to graduate from an Arkansas high school, 58% of Arkansans opposed allowing them to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. Another 33% supported giving them access to in-state tuition.
Over the past seven years, poll results have shown little change in views toward gay marriage, with 55% of respondents opposing any legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.
When questioned about government policy regarding undocumented immigrants, 55% endorsed allowing undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens after meeting certain criteria, such as learning English and paying back taxes. In contrast 26% advocated deporting all undocumented immigrants. There has been little change in these results since 2009.
The 2012 Arkansas Poll was conducted by Issues & Answers Network. Between Oct. 9 and 14, interviewers completed 800 live telephone interviews among a random sample of adult Arkansans. Twenty percent of all respondents were cell phone users. Ten of the interviews were conducted in Spanish.
The survey’s margin of error statewide is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, meaning that researchers are 95% confident that the actual result lies within 3.5 percentage points in either direction of the result the poll’s sample produced.