The University of Arkansas’s Arkansas Poll was released today and it shows Donald Trump and the state’s highest-ranking politicians generally holding steady in approval ratings (not high in all cases.)
Donald Trump has a positive 50-45 favorable/unfavorable rating among all poll respondents and, more important, 53-44 among very likely voters, about the same as last year.
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Gov. Asa Hutchinson maintained a 61 percent approval rating among all respondents and edged up to 65 percent among likely voters.
Arkansans aren’t so warm toward U.S. senators, but still more positive than negative. John Boozman scored 39-24 (42-27 among likely voters) and Tom Cotton’s corresponding numbers were 45-30 and 51-33.
On other issues:
ABORTION: 41 percent favored laws making abortion harder to obtain and 21 percent easier, but 31 percent favored no changes in existing law.
DEATH PENALTY: 66 percent support.
CLIMATE CHANGE: 64 percent said it posed no “serious threat” to them or their way of life, where only 44 percent held that opinion last year. 46 percent said the seriousness of climate change is “generally exaggerated.”
GUN CONTROL: Here Arkansas broke somewhat from legislative/Republican orthodoxy. 44 percent favored stricter gun control laws, while only 10 percent wanted an easing of restrictions. 43 percent favored no change in existing law, so on balance a small majority favored the existing light regulation of guns. Nationally, 60 percent favor stricter gun laws.
But the poll drilled deeper. It found more preferred doing something about gun violence than protecting gun rights. Majorities favored, at the national level, more mental health screening, background checks at gun shows, red flag laws, licensing for gun purchases., a ban on high-capacity ammo magazines and a ban on sale of semi-automatic assault guns. A narrow majority (52-44) favored arming teachers
There was, however, a mix of opinions on state legislative gun issues:
FOR: A cheaper concealed carry license (53-44); concealed carry in church (50-48), concealed carry in most public buildings (52-46).
AGAINST: Ownership of machine guns and silencers (72-22); concealed handguns on college campuses (54-40)
IMMIGRATION: Most favored a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally if they meet certain requirements, but also favored hiring more border guards, building more border walls and deporting all illegals (48-44).
The poll shows a widening of the gap in political party identification to 35-23 Republican/Democrat but splitting 40-21 in leaning Republican among those who called themselves independent.
On balance, respondents seemed to think life in Arkansas was pretty good with their circumstances this year the same or better than the year before.
And here’s an unsettling trend: Since 2014, respondents have been asked how many times in a week they read a daily newspaper. The percentage answering “zero” hit a new high of 53 percent and seven-day readership hit a new low of 20 percent (down from 36 percent in 2014).
The poll, sponsored by the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society, was conducted in 811 telephone interviews.
Here’s an analysis from Janine Parry, political science professor at U
A, who makes the point that Arkansans track national polls on many key issues.