LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The annual Arkansas Poll was released Monday, showing the economy to be the top concern of many Natural State Residents while showing growing disapproval to how elected officials are operating.
The poll, complied by the University of Arkansas Department of Political Science, showed 36% of respondents said the economy was the most important issue facing the state, down 3% from the prio year’s survey.
Politicians or politics in general was a distant second on the list, being seen das the most important issue by 14% of respondents.
While politicians were not seen high as the top issue in the state, respondents were harsh in their evaluations of many Arkansas lawmakers.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders saw a 39% disapproval rating against a 48% approval rating. That disapproval rating was the highest for an Arkansas governor in the 25-year history of the poll, breaking the previous mark of 38% given to then-Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders’ father, in 2003.
As for the state’s top officials in Washington, Sen. John Boozman’s disapproval rating was up to 38%, its highest ever, while his approval rating held fairly steady at a 40%, the same as when he entered office in 2011.
Sen. Tom Cotton saw a 44% disapproval against a 42% approval rating, marking a fairly minor decline in approval but a sharp increase in disapproval since his taking office in 2015.
While the Arkansas leaders saw close numbers in approval and disapproval, Natural State residents had very low ratings for President Joe Biden, whose 63% disapproval has remained constant since he took office.
While Arkansans had differing issues on lawmakers, there were some bright spots in how they thought government operated. The survey showed the highest positive results for public libraries and parks & recreation services, with 83% of those surveyed saying they were satisfied or very satisfied with both categories.
Respondents gave relatively high marks for police protection, with 78% saying they were satisfied or very satisfied. Health and hospital services were also positive, with 64% satisfied or very satisfied.
The least satisfactory was the public welfare system, with 53% voting they were unsatisfied or very unsatisfied. The K-through-12 public schools also received a low rating at 47% satisfied or very satisfied, though colleges and universities score higher at a 78% positive rate.
The politics of the state voters showed 33% thought of themselves as Republicans versus 25% who considered themselves Democrats, almost an inverse of when polling began in 1999. The largest group classified themselves as independent voters, at 34%. Of those independent voters, 44% thought they were closer to Republicans.
For political beliefs, however, 47% of respondents felt they were conservative, versus 17% who were liberal and 29% who answered moderate.
Against that conservativism, however, 38% felt abortions should be easier to get in the state, compared to 25% who thought the laws should be unchanged and 29% who felt they should be more difficult.
On guns, 40% of voters thought gun laws should be stricter, 39% who thought they should not change and 19% who felt they should be less strict.
In a release, University of Arkansas political science professor and poll director Janine Parry noted that recent years have seen the number of state residents who feel the Natural State is heading in “the wrong direction” has climbed to one in three.
“A volatile economic and political environment is likely influencing some people’s general sense of well-being, in Arkansas and elsewhere,” Parry said.
To see the full result of the Arkansas Poll as well as a breakdown of how the numbers were gathered, head to Fulbright.UArk.edu.