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Poll: Arkansans say economy, jobs most important issue

story from Talk Business, a TCW content partner

More Arkansans feel the state is heading in the right direction than the wrong direction and a majority identify the economy and jobs as their top issue of concern.

In a new survey conducted on Jan. 19, 2014 by Talk Business and Hendrix College, 520 likely Arkansas voters weighed in on the economy.

About 55% said the economy and jobs were the most important issue facing Arkansas with health care (16%) and education (14%) being distant alternative choices. Also 48% said the state was heading in the right direction versus 36% who said the state was moving in the wrong direction.

Q: What is the most important issue facing people in Arkansas today?
14%  Education
55%  Economy and Jobs
9%   Crime
16%  Healthcare
6%   Some Other Issue

Q: Overall, do you feel that Arkansas is generally headed in the right direction or the wrong direction?
48%   Right Direction
36%   Wrong Direction
16%   Don’t Know

Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, helped construct and analyze the poll. He offered the following observations.
• The issue that is of most concern to Arkansas voters is quite clear. A healthy majority of voters (55%) say that the economy and jobs is the preeminent political issue on their minds over five years after the start of the Great Recession.

• Other issues that sometimes get a good deal of air time, such as health care, lag dramatically behind economics. The centrality of the economy and jobs as the key issue crosses all demographic and political subsets of Arkansans. The key test for candidates in this political environment is offering a vision of an economic future for the state that resonates with voters.

• Just under half — (48%) of the respondents on our survey examining the attitudes of Arkansans at the start of an election year — say that Arkansas is on the right track while just over one-third (36%) say that Arkansas is now headed in the wrong direction.

• Because of the importance of the economy and jobs it appears that Arkansas’s relatively stable performance during the economic downturn is central to this positive evaluation. These numbers are quite consistent across key demographic and political groups.

• This general optimism about the state of Arkansas means that candidates for office that offer a vision of dramatic shifts in state government may have some obstacles to overcome.

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POLL METHODOLOGY

This survey was conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-4.3%, was completed using IVR survey technology among 520 Arkansas likely voters statewide.

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