Poll On Arkansas Ballot Issues Shows Mixed Results

Oct 19, 2014

Three of the five measures that are likely to be on the November 4th ballot are polling with different degrees of voter support, according to a new battery of surveys from Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College.

The new polling of 2,075 likely Arkansas voters was conducted on Wednesday, Oct. 15 and Thursday, Oct. 16. It has a margin of error of +/- 2.2% and includes live cell phone calls and automated landline respondents. The statewide results are a compilation of four different Congressional District level surveys completed from four different Congressional District level samples. This combination not only offers a “super-sized” poll for statewide results, but allows for large enough sample sizes at the Congressional District level to draw detailed obsevations. More on the methodology is discussed at the bottom of this post.

“This is our final round of polling prior to the general election,” said Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock. “There are some trends that will be obvious as we roll out these results. With early voting starting on Monday, it is time to offer our last snapshot to see how the final two weeks may move, or not move, the numbers.”


There are five ballot measures on this year’s general election ballot. The latest polling did not test Issues No. 1 and 2. Issue 1 would allow the General Assembly to provide for legislative committee review and approval of state agencies’ administrative rules. Issue 2 would require ballot petitioners to submit 75% of their signatures as valid before they could qualify for an extension of time to collect more.

“We did not feel there has been much public awareness of these two issues, which generally results in a large undecided block. With limited space for our polling endeavors, we focused on the three more high-profile ballot measures,” Brock said.

Issue 3 would alter the state’s ethics laws related to legislators, lobbyists and political contributions. It also extends the state’s term limits law.

Q: The legislature has referred a constitutional amendment that would ban gifts, meals, and trips provided to legislators by lobbyists except in limited circumstances and would also ban corporations from making contributions to Arkansas state candidates. In addition, it would extend term limits to allow legislators to serve up to 16 years and would create a commission to evaluate whether government officials’ salaries should be altered. If the election were held today, would you vote for or against such a constitutional amendment?

23% For
62% Against
15% Don’t Know

As previous Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College has shown, this measure is viewed unfavorably by voters. In April 2014, a question regarding Issue 4 was tested. At the time only 25% approved, 57% disapproved and 18% were undecided. Term limits supporters have been airing TV ads in opposition to Issue 3. Issue 4, which was declared eligible for the ballot last week after a legal challenge, would allow for statewide alcohol sales and eliminate dry counties.

Q: A measure will be on the ballot this November to expand alcohol sales. If it passes, it will eliminate dry counties and allow liquor sales in all 75 counties in Arkansas. If it fails, the law stays as it is. If the election were today, would you vote for or against the measure?

40% For
54% Against
6% Don’t Know

Issue 5, which is still tied up in legal review, would raise the state minimum wage.

Q: A measure will be on the ballot to increase the state minimum wage in Arkansas. The proposal would increase the minimum hourly wage for workers in the state from $6.25 to $8.50 over a 3-year period. If the election were today, would you vote for or against the measure?

69% For 
26% Against
5% Don’t Know

When the minimum wage issue was tested last April, it also had overwhelming support. That level of support has declined although it still has a supermajority of approval.


Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, helped craft and analyze the latest poll. He offered this analysis of the poll results.

Ethics/Term Limits:

We have polled two of the measures on the ballot previously and the results from this survey suggest stability in Arkansans’ attitudes on them.

In an April survey, the multi-part ethics measure that was sent to the voters by the legislature as Issue 3 was trailing badly with only 25% approving and 57% disapproving. This most recent poll of Arkansas voters, following some attacks on the proposal for its loosening of the state’s term limits provisions, shows some movement in an unfavorable direction.

The measure is particularly unpopular with older voters (over two-thirds of those over 65 oppose the measure). In terms of partisanship, it is slightly more popular with Democrats (30% support and 55% oppose) than with Republicans (18%-66%) and Independents (23%-64%). It is also slightly more popular with women than with men.

Minimum Wage:

Issue 5 is an initiative that would ratchet up the Arkansas minimum wage over a three year period. In April, it was favored by a whopping 79% of those voters that were surveyed.

The wage proposal has been central to the debate in several high-profile Arkansas races since then with most, but not all, major party candidates coming out in support of the measure. While there is no organized opposition to the measure, the public debate about it has brought support down slightly (to just under 70% approval), but it is clearly on its way to ratification by the voters.

A partisan split does show itself on the proposal with over nine in ten Democrats supporting it, but only 52% of Republicans in support. Independents split 63%-33%.

Just under 90% of African-Americans support the measure while other racial and ethnic groups’ support — always in the majority — is smaller. Finally, a small gender gap does show itself on the measure with 71% of women and 64% of men in support. All told, there are indications that the minimum wage could serve as an impetus to the ballot box for key groups that Democratic candidates need to win in the 2014 cycle.

Alcohol Expansion:

Finally, this poll provides our first opportunity to gauge Arkansans’ attitudes on the proposal on liberalization of the state’s alcohol laws (Issue 4). Earlier polling by other public opinion groups did show majority support for the measure that would make the entire state of Arkansas wet.

An opposition campaign has arisen on two fronts. The first argues that the measure would undermine a key aspect of local control, while the second is a morality-based argument grounded in conservative churches.

In our survey, a majority (54%) now say they plan to vote against the measure. While the outcome is not as clear as with the other two measures, proponents have a tremendous amount of work to do in the closing days of the campaign to win over the state’s voters.

It is important to note that the centrality of religion in the debate does create some possibility that the measure may actually perform better at the ballot box than in surveys. In 2012, we saw this phenomenon on the medical marijuana initiative. It only barely lost on election day but many more Arkansans said they were opposed both before and after the election.

The alcohol expansion measure is popular with younger voters. It gains 49%-44% support among 18 to 29 year olds and an even larger support among those aged 30 to 44 (53%-40.5%).

A plurality of African-American voters support the measure, but it trails with other key racial and ethnic groups. A slight majority of Democrats support it while a healthy majority (62%) of Republicans oppose it. Independents split 38% for to 59% who oppose. Lastly, there is a small gender gap on the proposal with 45% of men but only 38% of women supporting it.


This survey was conducted by Talk Business Research and Hendrix College on Wednesday and Thursday, October 15 and 16, 2014. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-2.2%, was completed using IVR survey technology and live cell phone respondents among 2,075 frequent voters in Arkansas. Only respondents who positively identified that they planned to vote in the November 4th general election were allowed to complete the survey.

Approximately 16% of the voters in our sample were contacted via cell phone with live callers. This is in response to the increased reliance by voters on cell phones. Additionally, we applied generally standard weighting to the poll results based on age, gender, race and Congressional Districts.

Age (weighted according to 2010 statewide vote):

8% Under the age of 30
19% Between the ages of 30 and 44
41% Between the ages of 45 and 64
32% 65 or older

Ethnicity (weighted according to 2010 statewide vote):

11% African American
1% Asian American
83% Caucasian or White
2% Latino
3% Other

Party Identification (unweighted):

34% Democratic 
30% Independent
29% Republican
7% Other

Gender (weighted according to 2010 statewide vote):

46% Male
54% Female

Congressional Districts (weighted according to 2010 population):

25% CD1
25% CD2
25% CD3
25% CD4

All media outlets are welcome to reprint, reproduce, or rebroadcast information from this poll with proper attribution to Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College.