Poll: 2nd District Democrats show strong support for Arkansas Works, gun regulation

May 14, 2018

In the latest survey from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College, Second District Democrats offered empirical proof of their overwhelming support for the state’s Medicaid expansion program and additional gun regulation. The numbers stand in stark contrast to recent polling of GOP voters.

624 likely Democratic voters in central Arkansas were asked for their opinion on a variety of issues and races, including the Second District Congressional primary, the Arkansas Governor’s race, and President Donald Trump’s job performance.

“While it is easy to draw conclusions based on biases, generalizations, and subjective stories, it is always good to get solid evidence of where voters from different political perspectives stand on key issues,” said Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief. “As was the case a few weeks ago, there were some easy conclusions to draw regarding GOP voters, but our polling confirms and offers additional insight into how these political groups think.”

This round of Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College polling was conducted on May 1-3, 2018, and included Second District Democratic voters who said they planned to vote on May 22nd. They were asked:

Q: As you may know, Arkansas instituted a program using federal Medicaid dollars to provide private insurance to low-income Arkansans through health care exchanges. The program is now called “Arkansas Works”. Do you support or oppose the Arkansas Works program?

70% Support
13% Oppose
17% Don’t Know

Q: Would you say that policymakers should make gun laws more regulated, less regulated, or make no changes? 

78% More regulated
7% Less regulated
11% No changes
4% Don’t Know

Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, helped craft and analyze the poll. He offered this analysis:

Arkansas Works
The Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion program (and its predecessor the “private option”) has survived in close legislative votes since its creation through a combination of unanimity among Democrats supportive of expansion along with a smaller number of Republicans. Those patterns have also been shown in public attitudes about Medicaid expansion with Democratic support and Republican opposition. Our recent statewide survey of Republican voters showed some growing support for Arkansas Works, Governor Asa Hutchinson’s rebranded version of program. The continued consistency in support among Democrats shows the cementing of the program on the state’s policy landscape. There are signs of slightly higher discontent with the program among Democratic African-Americans and the youngest of subset of voters (aged 18-29), possibly because of concerns about some of the new work requirements in the plan approved recently by the Trump Administration.  Still, Democratic support for the program is unwavering.

In the post-Parkland world, we now see that, at least in the state’s most urbanized congressional district, there is now strong support among Democratic voters for additional regulation of firearms. In Democratic primaries, standing up to the NRA is now a political winner. In local legislative elections this cycle, particularly in Pulaski County, we are seeing candidates tout their having been stamped with a “seal of approval” by groups such as Moms Demand Action. That said, while a strongly held view among Democratic voters in the most urban and suburban counties (Pulaski, Faulkner, and Saline), further out in the more rural parts of the district, there is less support for additional gun regulation.  Otherwise, an examination of the crosstabs shows great consistency across key demographic subgroups. It does increasingly appear that the politics around guns will be yet another point of polarization in Arkansas, across partisan and urban/rural dimensions.

Robert Coon is a partner with Impact Management Group, a government relations and communications firm that works with GOP and independent candidates. Coon is also a Talk Business & Politics contributor. He offered this analysis:

Arkansas Works 
Democratic voters in the Second Congressional district widely favor the Arkansas Works program with 70% support. Taking into account the plurality of statewide Republicans that support Arkansas Works, the issue of Arkansas’ version of Medicaid expansion seems to be decided in the electorate’s eyes. Democratic voters in more rural areas view Arkansas works more negatively than those in urban and suburban counties like Pulaski, Saline, Faulkner, and White. Interestingly, among CD2 Democrats opposition to Arkansas Works is higher among African-American voters (18.9%) than white voters (10.1%) and also slightly higher among women (15.2%) than men (10.5%).

Differing greatly from Republican primary voters, Democratic voters in the Second Congressional District strongly support making gun laws more regulated (78%) with only 11% preferring no changes. Comparatively, the largest share of statewide Republican primary voters tested in April fell into the “no changes” category (44%). On the Democratic side, the lowest intensity for more regulations came from voters 18-29, with 18% favoring fewer regulations and another 18% preferring no changes. Differences also emerged geographically as support for more gun regulations was significantly lower with voters in more rural areas including Conway, Perry and Van Buren counties. While Arkansas is traditionally a gun friendly state, it would be worth examining what the statewide sentiment is for more gun regulations among statewide Democratic and Independent voters, given that 18% of GOP statewide voters favored more gun regulations back in April.

This survey of 624 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted on Tuesday-Thursday, May 1-3, 2018. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-3.9%, was completed using live callers via cell phone and IVR survey technology. Respondents were chosen from a random sample of Arkansas Democratic primary voters who voted in at least one of the last three primary elections and whom indicated their likelihood to vote this year. Age was weighted.

Age (weighted according to 2016 state Democratic primary vote)
10%   Under the age of 30
19% Between the ages of 30 and 44
37% Between the ages of 45 and 64
34% 65 or older

1% Asian-American
23% African-American
1% Latino
69% Caucasian or White
6% Other

38% Male
62% Female

2.5% Did not complete high school
13% High School Graduate
25% Some College
32% Graduated College
27.5% Post-Grad Degree

Pulaski County vs. Non-Pulaski County
66% Pulaski County
34% Non-Pulaski County

Live Caller vs. IVR
24% Live Caller/cell phones
76% IVR

All media outlets are welcome to reprint, reproduce, or rebroadcast information from this poll with proper attribution to Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College. For interviews, contact Talk Business & Politics Roby Brock by email at roby@talkbusiness.net.

You can watch more interviews on the Talk Business and Politics website, TalkBusiness.net.

This article was originally published on May 10, 2018. Talk Business and Politics is a content partner of KASU.  Their show airs on KASU 91.9 FM on Mondays and Fridays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:51 am.  It also airs during NPR’s All Things Considered on Wednesdays at 5:20 pm.  You can follow more of their coverage on their website TalkBusiness.net where you can also catch the latest Northeast Arkansas news.