The 14th annual Arkansas Poll, released last week by the UA’s Department of Political Science, offers a glimpse at how Arkansas residents will likely vote in the Nov. 6 general election.
While voters showed a clear preference in the presidential election, the numbers for two ballot measures – a half-cent sales tax for highways and legalization of medical marijuana – are too close to call.
In the presidential election, “very likely voters” prefer Gov. Mitt Romney to President Barack Obama, 58 percent to 31 percent.
Among those same voters, 53 percent favor the sales tax measure and 42 percent oppose. When it comes to permitting the medical use of marijuana in Arkansas for certain conditions, 53 percent of very likely voters oppose the measure and 43 percent favor it.
As in past years, the economy leads the list of important issues for Arkansans. When asked to choose from a list of the issues most frequently cited in last year’s poll, 47 percent of Arkansans named the economy as their chief concern. Following at a distance were health care at 15 percent, drugs at 12 percent and education at 11 percent. Taxes and immigration were in the single digits.
The poll, conducted by Issues & Answers Network between Oct. 9 and Oct. 14, also asked Arkansans their opinion on some current issues. For the first time this year, the poll asked questions related to the expansion of Medicaid and to the DREAM Act. The health care law allows states to expand Medicaid to provide health insurance to more low income people, and the poll question went on to say: “The federal government will initially pay the entire cost of this expansion, and after several years, Arkansas will pay 10 percent and the federal government will pay 90 percent. Arkansas must decide whether to go ahead with this expansion.” In response, 45 percent supported keeping Medicaid as is, with no addition federal funding and no change in who is covered. Expanding Medicaid was supported by 43 percent.
Regarding the case of people who were brought to Arkansas from foreign countries when they were young and are not here legally but went on to graduate from an Arkansas high school, 58 percent of Arkansans opposed allowing them to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. Another 33 percent supported giving them access to in-state tuition.
Over the past seven years, poll results have shown little change in views toward gay marriage, with 55 percent of respondents opposing any legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship. When questioned about government policy regarding undocumented immigrants, 55 percent endorsed allowing undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens after meeting certain criteria, such as learning English and paying back taxes. In contrast 26 percent advocated deporting all undocumented immigrants. There has been little change in these results since 2009.
Interviewers completed 800 live telephone interviews among a random sample of adult Arkansans. Twenty percent of all respondents were cell phone users, and 10 of the interviews were conducted in Spanish.
The survey’s margin of error statewide is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, meaning that researchers are 95 percent confident that the actual result lies within 3.5 percentage points in either direction of the result the poll’s sample produced, according to a news release.