Poll: After controversial session, Arkansas Legislature has very negative numbers

Controversial topics drowned the typical bread and butter affairs of the legislative session, and it played into public opinion.

A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College poll of 535 Arkansas voters finds that the 93rd General Assembly only got a 32% approval rating, while 45% disapproved of its actions.

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the work being done by the Arkansas legislature?

32% agree
45% disapprove
23% Don’t know

The negative approval rating of Legislature jobs and the intra-party and intra-branch fights that took place in the recent session may also be a factor in Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s lower job approval rating, which always remains in positive territory.

“We have seen the struggle for state legislature approval in recent years, as politics in general has become increasingly nationalized and partisan,” said Roby Brock, editor of Talk Business & Politics. “The underlying question here is: Do the Arkansians disapprove of the legislature, but do they approve of their legislator? I suspect it does, but the litmus test will be the 2022 re-election cycle. “

Another question posed in the latest poll explored the Arkansans’ thoughts on one of the 93rd General Assembly’s most controversial topics dealing with transgender medical restrictions.

Q: In the last legislative session, the Arkansas General Assembly passed a law that would ban most gender transition procedures for young people under the age of 18, even though such treatment has already started. Are you in favor or against the adoption of this new law?

52.5% support
38% oppose
9.5% don’t know

ANALYSIS

Talk Business & Politics seeks a bipartisan contribution in the construction and analysis of its polls.

Dr Jay Barth, professor emeritus of politics at Hendrix College, is active in Democratic Party politics and helped develop and analyze the latest poll. He offered this analysis of the survey results:

“While the legislature has work to come back to complete in the fall, the Arkansas General Assembly has just completed most of its business. Overall, the Arkansans didn’t like what ‘they saw. Whether it was session litigation (with disputes between the majority body of the GOP and Governor Hutchinson and within the body over pandemic management rules and heated issues such as guns, abortion and race) or a misplaced priority on its agenda, voters in Arkansas have a negative perception of the work of the legislature this year.

“The negative perspective on the General Assembly is shown across all age and racial groups. Majorities of men and women rate the legislature negatively, but there is a gender gap expressed with women more likely to view the governing body of the state negatively than do The education-based gap is also expressed in our number of particularly negative university graduates towards the performance of the legislature. of the legislature are better in more rural areas, voters in the second congressional district are particularly negative towards his work.Finally, there is an expected partisan bias with a majority of Republicans positively evaluating the GOP-controlled legislature and Democrats. categorically negative; what is most interesting is that the independents disapprove of his performance by a margin of two to one (56-28).

“There were several heated debates during the legislative session on transgender issues. One of these bills (which became law 626 and is called the SAFE law) bans all medical treatment for the blocking puberty or gender transition among minors, including those who have started treatment A slight majority of voters in Arkansas express support for the legislation although there are pockets of strong opposition in the electorate from Arkansas, just as there were in the General Assembly.

“First of all, it’s interesting that aside from older voters who are the least likely to have an opinion, voters in Arkansas were watching the issue closely and we are seeing numbers” don’t know not “very low; those under 45 have very strong, but divided opinions on the issue with those under 29 opposed to the measure. On the SAFE law, there is a clear positive split with eight Republicans on ten who support it, three in four Democrats who oppose it and a slight majority of independents supporting the legislation, a subject on which an educational divide is highlighted with only half of those with a college education opposing it. legislation and nearly six in ten without a degree backing it. Similarly, a racial divide is shown with only half of black voters opposing a measure that was framed as discriminatory by opponents and the government. s white voters who support her. Finally, there is a slight gender gap on the issue, with women being more wary of it, although the gender gap is not as large as on other issues involving sexual minorities such as marriage. homosexual.

“The big question for the future is whether policies involving transgender people will show a natural change in public attitudes as more and more transgender and non-binary individuals ‘come out’, as has been the case. the case for the problems of gays and lesbians in the last generation. Or, will transgender issues be more like another social issue – abortion – where the battle lines have solidified across generations. As a court case has already been filed against Bill 626, it is clear that this is a political issue that will be discussed a lot in Arkansas and across the nation for years to come. “

Robert Coon, managing partner of Impact Management Group, which works with Republican political candidates, also helped develop and analyze the latest poll. He proposed this analysis of the survey results:

“About a third of Arkansas voters polled approve of the work of the legislature with a higher percentage (45%) of disapproval. 23% said they ‘didn’t know’, showing that many are not following closely legislative affairs of the state.

“A majority of Republicans (52%) expressed their approval, while the majority of Democrats (69%) and Independents (56%) disapproved. Approval was lower among women (28%) than men (36%), although a plurality of both disapprove of the legislature. Although the legislature itself may have low approval, as we have seen with the findings of the gender transition legislation, this does not necessarily mean that the laws or policies implemented by the legislature no. do not have public support. little consideration, but re-elect their own representatives to Congress easily. The same dichotomy is likely to exist at the state level.

“A number of states have considered gender transition legislation this year, primarily in the Red states, as the issue has become a cultural priority among some conservatives. In Arkansas, where the legislation was finally passed, a majority of voters (53%) in this poll say they support the ban, with voters under the age of 30 being the only age group in s oppose it globally (56%). Support was highest among voters aged 30 to 44 and 45 to 64, which corresponds to the most common parent age groups.

“Democrats and Republicans see this issue in the opposite direction with 80% of Republicans supporting it and 73% of Democrats opposing it. difference to how college and non-college educated voters responded to this. Only 44% of college educated voters support the legislation, compared to 58% of the out-of-school group.

METHODOLOGY

This survey of 535 registered voters was conducted from May 26 to 31, 2021 and has a margin of error of +/- 5.5%. Respondents were contacted by landline phone and SMS. The poll is weighted to reflect key demographics and is balanced by congressional district. For more details on methodology and demographics, click here.


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