9/7: Arkansas: Cotton Leads Pryor in U.S. Senate Race… Hutchinson Ahead of Ross in Governor’s Race

Among likely voters in Arkansas including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, Republican Tom Cotton, 45%, is ahead of Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor, 40%, in the race for U.S. Senate in the state.  While allegiances fall along party lines, Cotton leads Pryor among independents, 43% to 34%.

Among registered voters statewide including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, the double-digit lead Pryor had over Cotton in an NBC News/Marist Poll conducted in May is gone.  Cotton, 41%, and Pryor, 41%, are neck and neck among registered voters.  This compares with 51% of registered voters for Pryor and 40% for Cotton in that earlier survey.

The U.S. Senate race in Arkansas is playing out against a backdrop of dissatisfaction with elected officials in Washington.  There is also a desire to enforce government’s system of checks and balances against President Barack Obama.  A plurality of registered voters in Arkansas reports, as a result of November’s elections, they want to see the Republicans control both houses of Congress in order to balance the president’s power.  About one-third want to see more Democrats elected to send a message to Republicans to work with the president.  Nearly one in five says they don’t care which party has control as long as the incumbent loses.

In the race for Arkansas governor, Republican Asa Hutchinson, 48%, is ahead of Democrat Mike Ross, 39%, among likely voters statewide including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Among registered voters statewide, Hutchinson has 46% to 39% for Ross.  In May, Hutchinson also was ahead of Ross by seven percentage points.

Complete September 7, 2014 NBC News/Marist Poll of Arkansas 

“Arkansas is a test of whether an incumbent Democratic senator can survive re-election in a state Mitt Romney carried by 24 points in 2012,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “Right now, it’s not going Pryor’s way.”

Poll points:

  • Cotton, 45%, has an advantage over Pryor, 40%, among likely voters in Arkansas including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate in the contest for U.S. Senate.  Three percent are for Green Party candidate Mark Swaney, and Libertarian candidate Nathan LaFrance receives 2%.  One percent supports another candidate, and 9% are undecided.
  • A partisan divide exists with 87% of Democrats likely to vote backing Pryor, and 89% of Republican likely voters supporting Cotton.  Among independent voters statewide, 43% support Cotton while 34% are for Pryor.
  • Looking at gender, a majority of men, 52%, supports Cotton, and 34% back Pryor.  Among women, 45% support Pryor while 39% are for Cotton.
  • When it comes to voters’ intensity of support in the U.S. Senate race, a majority of likely voters with a candidate preference, 52%, reports they strongly support their choice of candidate.  About one in three, 33%, is somewhat committed to their pick, and 13% might vote differently.  58% of Pryor’s supporters back him strongly compared with 51% of Cotton’s backers who have a similar intensity of support for their candidate.
  • Both Pryor and Cotton have weak favorable ratings.  44% of likely voters perceive Pryor favorably while 42% have a negative view of him.  Among adults statewide, 40% think well of Pryor while 37% have a lesser opinion of him.  Pryor’s favorable rating has dipped since May when 46% of Arkansans thought well of him, and 32% did not.
  • Looking at Cotton’s favorable rating, 44% of likely voters have a positive impression of him while 40% do not.  Cotton’s favorable rating among residents, overall, is upside down.  39% do not like him while 36% have a positive opinion of Cotton.  In May, 37% had an unfavorable view of Cotton, and 34% had a favorable impression of him. 

Plurality Favors Divided Government… Obama and Congressional Approval Ratings Below 30%

  • As a result of the 2014 midterm elections, 44% of registered voters in Arkansas would like Republican control of the House and Senate to check President Obama’s power during his last two years in office.  About one in three, 33%, would like to see more Democrats elected to send a message to Republicans that they need to work with the president.  Nearly one in five, 17%, says it doesn’t matter as long as incumbents, regardless of party, are unseated.
  • Only 29% of Arkansas residents approve of President Obama’s job performance while more than six in ten, 61%, disapprove.  In May, the president’s approval rating was 33%, and 57% disapproved.
  • The approval ratings of Republicans and Democrats in Congress are even lower than that of President Obama.  23% of adults in Arkansas approve of how the Republicans in Congress are performing.  62% disapprove.  Congressional Democrats receive similar ratings.  Only 24% of Arkansans approve of the job the Democrats in Congress are doing.  62% disapprove.

Hutchinson Leads Ross by 9 Points in Governor’s Race 

  • In the Arkansas’ governor’s race, Republican Asa Hutchinson has the support of 48% of likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Democrat Mike Ross receives 39%.  Libertarian candidate Frank Gilbert garners 3%, and Green Party candidate Josh Drake has 3%.  Less than 1% supports another candidate, and 7% are undecided.
  • Independents are key.  Among independents likely to vote in Arkansas, Hutchinson has 48% to 34% for Ross.
  • A majority of likely voters in Arkansas with a candidate preference, 53%, strongly supports their choice for governor33% are somewhat committed to their selection, and 13% might vote differently.  Only 1% is unsure.  59% of Ross’ backers are strongly in his camp compared with 50% of Hutchinson’s supporters who share this sentiment about their candidate.
  • Hutchinson is viewed favorably by 51% of likely voters, and only 32% have a negative view of him.  Looking at residents, overall, 42% like Hutchinson while 32% do not.
  • Ross is also viewed well among likely voters in Arkansas.  46% have a favorable impression of Ross while 31% have an unfavorable one.  Among Arkansans, 39% think well of Ross while 29% have a lesser opinion of him.
  • Governor Mike Beebe’s job approval rating remains strong.  72% of Arkansas adults approve of Beebe’s performance in office, comparable to the 74% he received in May.
  • When it comes to Arkansas’ most famous governor, 62% of likely voters have a favorable view of former President Bill Clinton, and 34% have an unfavorable one.  About two-thirds of residents, 66%, have a positive opinion of him.
  • What do Arkansas likely voters think of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney?  44% have an unfavorable opinion of him while 40% have a positive one.  About two-thirds of Republicans have a positive view of their 2012 presidential nominee, and 22% do not.  Among residents, 44% have an unfavorable opinion of Romney while 35% have a favorable one.

Majority Opposes Health Care Law… More than Seven in Ten Pessimistic about Nation’s Track 

  • 55% of adults in Arkansas think the new health care law is a bad idea.  This includes 48% who strongly have this view.  28% believe it is a good idea, and 14% do not have an opinion either way.
  • Looking at the direction of the nation, 72% of residents believe the country is moving in the wrong direction, and 22% think it is traveling in the right one.

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables