Nov 5, 2021 - Politics
Arkansas Poll: Residents bummed on outlook
Data: Arkansas Poll. Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Arkansas Poll. Chart: Axios Visuals

Arkansans are more pessimistic about their financial future than they were during the recession, according to results of the Arkansas Poll released yesterday.

  • The likely reason has more to do with politics than the economy, U of A political science professor Janine Parry told Axios.

Why it matters: The annual poll provides a snapshot of how residents feel about current events, politics, policy and political figures.

  • It's one indicator of what issues matter most to voters. It's also a very early indicator of how they could vote in future elections.

Context: There's been low unemployment and a generally good economy in the state. Still, the poll signals there's some dissatisfaction about how things are going, Parry said.

By the numbers: In 2021, 27% of respondents answered they will be worse off financially a year from now. That number was only 20% in 2010 when the state still hadn't recovered from the recession caused by the housing market.

  • 45% of respondents said they'd be about the same, and only 21% said they expected to be better off.

Other findings: The poll was conducted in October during interviews using toll-free 1-800 telephone numbers with random adult residents. Participants were asked several questions about current issues and the approval ratings of elected officials. Some key findings:

  • The economy ranked as the most critical issue with 22% of respondents, followed by healthcare (12%) and politics (10%).
  • Gov. Asa Hutchinson's approval rating dropped to 57% from 69% a year ago. Twenty-six percent disapprove of him as governor, up from 25%.
  • Sen. John Boozman's approval rating dropped to 37% from 50% a year earlier. Thirty-two percent disapprove of him, up from 27%.
  • Sen. Tom Cotton's approval rating was 49%, down from 58% in 2020. Thirty-five percent disapprove of him, up from 32%.

Of note: Even though 69% of respondents said they know someone who has been hospitalized or died due to COVID-19, the issue continues to polarize.

  • 50% favor requiring masks at K–12 schools — 43% oppose.
  • 51% favor requiring masks at an event or concert — 43% oppose.
  • 48% favor requiring proof of vaccination for travel by airplane — 47% oppose.
  • 39% favor requiring proof of vaccination to attend K–12 schools, while 53% oppose.
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