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Poll seeks to capture Arkansas voter motivation

story from Talk Business, a TCW content partner

Talk Business and Hendrix College conducted its first post-election survey to further understand the motivations and demographics of Arkansas voters in last Tuesday’s election cycle.

In a survey of 1,126 statewide registered voters who confirmed they voted on November 6, 2012, respondents said the economy, candidate values and support for — not against — their Presidential choice all influenced their actions.

“Our effort is to gain a deeper understanding of what drove the decision-making on Tuesday for Arkansas voters,” said Talk Business executive editor Roby Brock. “Today, we analyze the Presidential data and compare it to national exit survey responses. Tomorrow, we’ll explore Arkansas voter attitudes on their ballots cast for and against medical marijuana.”

RESULTS
From the statewide survey, conducted on Sunday night, Nov. 11, the poll has a margin of error of +/-2.9%. The battery of Presidential questions included:
For whom did you vote for President?
60.5%    Mitt Romney
36%       Barack Obama
3.5%      Other Candidate

What one issue was more important to you in determining your vote for President?
47%     Economy
13%     Federal Budget Deficit
4%       Foreign Policy
19%     Health Care
17%     Some Other Issue

In determining your vote for President, what was the most important quality of the candidate for whom you voted?
21.5%    The Candidate Cares About People Like Me
14%       The Candidate Is a Strong Leader
32%       The Candidate Shares My Values
22%       The Candidate Has a Vision for the Future
10.5%    Other

Was your vote for President primarily a vote for one candidate or a vote against another?
69%     It was a Vote For a Candidate
27%     It was a Vote Against a Candidate
4%       Don’t Know

ANALYSIS
Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science with Hendrix College, helped craft and analyze the poll. He offered the following observations on the Presidential questions in the survey:

The decision by the television networks and the Associated Press to cancel exit polling in Arkansas (and 18 other states) in this year’s general election robbed analysts of the state’s politics of crucial information about what drove Arkansans in their voting behavior in the presidential race and other key races on the ballot. To partially fill this void, Talk Business and Hendrix College carried out a post-election survey of Arkansans who had participated in the Nov. 6 election just days after that election to track the motivations that had driven their votes.

In the 2012 elections, as expected, Mitt Romney captured the votes of just over 6 in 10 Arkansas voters.  By gaining the votes of only 36.9% of the voters, Barack Obama came in under his poor 2008 performance in the state.

But, what demographic patterns were shown in these voting trends and what drove Arkansans to these decisions? Romney won the votes of over two-thirds of the state’s white voters, while Obama performed more strongly with other racial and ethnic groups led by his gaining the votes of just over 80% of black Arkansans.

Romney had success across all age groups in the state ranging from 58% of those 30-44 to 62% of those 65 or over.

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The large gender gap shown nationally was much smaller in Arkansas. Romney won the votes of 63% of male voters and 60% of female voters. That said, the gap between married and unmarried voters, no matter their sex, did also show itself in Arkansas with Romney winning the votes of 64% of married Arkansans but only 52% of unmarried ones.

Romney held Republican voters in the state, winning 94% of this group of voters. Obama also held the overwhelming majority of Arkansas’s Democrats (85%) but 13% of Democratic partisans did bail on the President. Most importantly, Romney won the votes of over 7 in 10 (71%) of independent voters. Previous polling by Talk Business/Hendrix College has shown that in 2012 many independents lean Republican and may well be on their way to Republican partisan identification.

Link here for more analysis from the poll results and information about the polling methodology.

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