New polling by Talk Business and Hendrix College shows little change from an earlier sounding in a potential gubernatorial race between Democrat Mike Ross and Republican Asa Hutchinson.

The telephone poll last week of about 600 found:


Asa Hutchinson 41%

Mike Ross 37%


Undecided 22%

However, Ross led against a generic Republican.


Ross 37

Republican nominee 36

Don’t know 27

The poll has a 4 percent plus or minus margin of error. Hutchinson led 43-38 in a February poll and there’s been little by way of campaigning — no paid media — since then.


Two observations:

1) Ross people said weeks ago that they expected Hutchinson to retain a small  lead, based on his statewide name recognition from three statewide (losing) races. Hutchinson’s number, they believe, is low for someone so well-known.

2) Hutchinson’s percentage was identical to the percentage Tom Cotton received in the same poll in a matchup against U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor that showed Pryor with a 42-41 edge.

I think you can conclude the yellow dog Republican vote in Arkansas is around 40 percent and the yellow dog Democratic vote is a slight bit behind that. This poll, however, showed Hutchinson with a heavy edge among self-identified “independents” who expressed a preference, but it’s unclear how large the sample of those voters was. 

It would appear the race is winnable by either candidate given the number of undecideds, unless Arkansas is now a satellite of Mississippi and Oklahoma. Ross will have more money in his own campaign treasury, but outside Republican money will flow in tidal waves.

The poll continued to show high approval numbers (63-22 favorable) for Mike Beebe. He’s already embraced Ross, who so far has no primary opposition. Hutchinson is the likely winner of his primary, but he faces an interesting balancing act. He’s running against two candidates — Curtis Coleman and Debra Hobbs — even more extreme politically than he is. Dare he run as a moderate in the Republican primary? Or might he be forced to match their extremism, not a great place to be for someone seeking swing voters in the general election.