A group called the Southern Progress Fund has tried in fits and starts over the last seven years or so to build a base for more progressive politics in the South.
You know how well that has turned out in Arkansas.
Arkansas native Amanda Crumley tells me the group has “relaunched,” beginning with a poll April 23-26 of 1,300 Arkansans on the just-completed legislative session.
She characterizes people as frustrated with the legislature’s focus on extreme cultural issues over bread-and-butter topics. The entire poll, with questions, wasn’t released. So take it as you will. I do believe, based on other samples, including the UA’s Arkansas Poll, that Arkansans are not nearly so consumed with, for example, unfettered gun use and criminalizing of abortion as the legislature is. But it’s certainly possible that many legislators reflect the districts from which they rise.
I hope some of the findings are accurate. It might give hope to some challenges of troglodytes in elections to come.
Key findings according to the summary:
In a state that Trump carried with over 60% of the vote, 57% majorities believe the Republican majority in the state legislature is ‘putting corporate special interests and donors before working people’ and are concerned that these politicians are ‘putting themselves in between individuals and their right to vote and their freedom to make medical choices for themselves and their children [which is] an unnecessary government intrusion by unqualified politicians and could be a slippery slope to eliminating even more freedoms.’
Majorities oppose the Republican legislation aimed at changing local administration of elections (87% oppose) and providing a religious justification for discrimination against other Arkansas voters including transgender individudals (72% oppose). The egregious laws criminalizing abortion at all stages of pregnancy (53% oppose) and the trans medical bill (51% agree with Hutchinson/Democrats) are not popular policies in this ruby red state.
This poll also finds opinions of the trans athlete legislation is shifting: 64% of voters support ‘requiring transgender girls at public schools to participate on sports teams according to their sex assigned at birth, and not the gender they identify as now’, but nearly half come to support repealing this law when they learn it may jeopardize the state’s ability to host NCAA tournaments (49% support repeal).
From the framing, the poll asked questions that depicted issues accurately, but NOT spun in alternative Republican reality. Partisan control of elections is described as election integrity by the GOP. Egregious abortion laws are described as protecting women’s health. Discrimination against non-existent transgender athletes is described as protecting women. Religious-based discrimination is described as freedom of religion. And so on.
For example from the poll:
The key is to get voters to understand the reality. Recent events are not encouraging, but at least somebody’s trying.
Here’s another poll question. Respondents correctly identified top Republican priorities at the legislative session. The question is whether they’d have liked to see issues rated at the bottom moved to the top.