FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Results for the 25th annual Arkansas Poll were released Oct. 30, revealing the lowest approval rating for an Arkansas governor in 20 years.
The poll found that voters were most concerned about the economy, politics, politicians and education.
A release from the University of Arkansas says that the number of respondents reporting concerns for the economy declined three points from last year, but was still more than almost all other concerns combined.
The release notes that respondents were modestly more optimistic this year.
“The question, ‘Do you feel AR is headed in the right or wrong direction?’ saw a 6-point increase of people answering ‘right.’ And when asked ‘a year from now, will you be better, worse, or the same financially,’ the number of people answering the ‘same’ rose by nearly 10% over the previous year, while the number of people answering worse’ held steady,” the release said.
A talking point from this year’s poll is the public figure approval rating. For Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the poll reported a 48% approval rating, the lowest for an Arkansas governor in 20 years.
The governor’s approval ratings can be seen in the graph below:
Sanders’ father, Former Gov. Mike Huckabee is the only governor to have a lower approval rating at 47% in 2003. Former Gov. Mike Beebe’s lowest rating was 66% in 2014 and former Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s lowest rating was 57% in 2021.
Dr. Janine Parry is the poll director. She says one or two points difference can be seen as “sampling noise” from a statistician perspective, but the difference is noticeable when looking at the larger picture.
“It is lower than a first-year governor typically is, and it’s significantly lower than the averages,” Parry said. “If you look at Hutchinson’s average, Beebe’s average and Huckabee’s average, which is as long as we’ve been doing this poll, she’s probably a good 10 points off that average.”
Additionally, Senator Tom Cotton received a 42% rating, Senator John Boozman a 40% rating and President Joe Biden a 33% rating.
Despite the low approval ratings, respondents still expressed satisfaction in state services.
“The overwhelming majority of respondents said they were “very satisfied or satisfied” with state and local services like police protection, public libraries, parks and recreation or colleges and universities,” the UA release said.
The poll revealed that the only two areas where results approached or exceeded 50% unsatisfactory were on the topics of K-12th grade public schools at 47%, and the public welfare system at 53%. The release says that these were also the two highest areas of dissatisfaction 20 years ago.
The university says that the poll was conducted through phone interviews of randomly selected adults in Arkansas between Oct. 4-22. Parry says 801 people were polled, and that the margin of error is 3.5% points.
The poll also has data on most important problems facing people in Arkansas, feelings on current issues like abortion and gun control and how people identify politically.
The full poll summary report, protocols and historic outcomes can be found here.