Results from a new survey of Arkansas residents show people are concerned about ongoing economic instability.
Analysts at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville say the 2013 Arkansas Poll reveals only 63 percent of respondents feel the state is headed in the right direction, a result that is 10 points lower than last year.
The findings released Wednesday also underscore ways the political climate is shifting in the state.
Professor Janine Parry directed the survey research and says political independents in Arkansas are no longer equally distributed among the two major parties.
“Until 2010, if we push the independents and ask them if they are really in the middle, or usually vote Republican or Democrat, they would divide out into roughly equal thirds,” Parry said. “For the fourth year in a row, this time we saw Arkansas independents are leaning pretty far to the right. In fact, over half of the very likely voter independents now identify as being closer to Republican.”
Questions concerning the 2014 election were also a major part of the poll. Results reveal incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Pryor locked in a tight race against Republican challenger Congressman Tom Cotton, with many voters still undecided.
About 36 percent of people who said they were very likely to vote next year said they'd back Pryor, while 37 percent said they'd back Cotton. Twenty-seven percent of respondents didn't know or refused to say who they would vote for in the upcoming U.S. Senate race.
“Almost every year, we poll about 800 people that gives us a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points… it’s a pretty large sample,” Parry said. “Among the people who participate, just over 600 self-identify as ‘very likely voters’ so we can talk pretty confidently about our sample being representative of the electorate as we approach another round of elections.”
Parry says the poll was conducted during the partial federal government shutdown and results found more residents are pessimistic about the future.
Click here to read the poll results.