Poll: Huckabee Tops Hillary, Beebe Bests Boozman In Arkansas

Jun 22, 2015

Former Governor Mike Huckabee at his campaign announcement in May in Hope, Ark.
Credit C-SPAN

New survey data shows Republican Mike Huckabee would beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in Arkansas if both were their party’s respective Presidential nominees, and former Democratic Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe would lead incumbent GOP Sen. John Boozman under a hypothetical head-to-head match-up.

In the latest poll commissioned by Talk Business & Politics, Hendrix College and Impact Management Group, more than 1,000 Arkansas voters expressed their opinions on a variety of subjects, including the Presidential and Senate races.

The survey was conducted from June 8-11, 2015 among 1,183 likely Arkansas voters. Respondents were surveyed by automated phone calls (80%) and online polling (20%). The poll has a margin of error of 1.84%.

Voters were asked:

Q: What are your feelings toward Hillary Clinton?

Very Positive 22%
Somewhat Positive 16% (38% Positive)
Neutral 8%
Somewhat Negative 9%
Very Negative 44% (53% Negative)
Don’t Know 1%

Q: What are your feelings toward Mike Huckabee?

Very Positive 26%
Somewhat Positive 21% (47% Positive)
Neutral 16%
Somewhat Negative 12%
Very Negative 23% (35% Negative)
Don’t Know 3%

Q: If the 2016 general election were held today and Hillary Clinton was the Democratic presidential nominee, would you be more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton, the Republican nominee, or are you unsure?

Hillary Clinton 33%
The Republican nominee 50%
Don’t Know 17%

Q: If the 2016 general election were held today and Mike Huckabee was the Republican presidential nominee and Hillary Clinton was the Democratic presidential nominee, would you be more likely to vote for Huckabee, Clinton, or are you unsure?

Mike Huckabee 51%
Hillary Clinton 37%
Don’t Know 12%

“While the nation is far from decided over who the nominees for President will be in 2016, these two candidates with strong ties to Arkansas could find themselves in a head-to-head match-up in Arkansas. If that were to happen, today you have to say advantage Huckabee,” said TB&P Editor-in-chief Roby Brock.

SENATE RACE
The poll also tested a Senate head-to-head contest that would pit the potentially strongest Democrat in Arkansas – former Gov. Mike Beebe – against incumbent GOP Sen. John Boozman.

Boozman, completing his first term in the U.S. Senate after a decade in the U.S. House, is up for re-election in 2016. While no Democrats have mentioned interest in the race and former Gov. Beebe has repeatedly said he won’t run for office again, Boozman remains a lesser-known political brand in the state.

In polling conducted for this survey, Boozman has a 42-21% positive job approval rating, yet 37% have no opinion on the state’s senior senator.

Voters were asked:

Q: If the 2016 general election were held today and Senator John Boozman was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate and former Governor Mike Beebe was the Democratic nominee, would you be more likely to vote for Boozman, Beebe, or are you unsure?

Senator John Boozman 37%
Mike Beebe 45%
Don’t Know 18%

ANALYSIS
Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, who helped construct and analyze the poll, offered this analysis:

Two individuals with Arkansas connections — former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton — have announced their candidacies for President in 2016. Republican Huckabee is viewed favorably by Arkansans with 47% viewing him either “very” or “somewhat” positively; 35% are negative towards the former Governor. This does mark some downward shift since our last survey of Huckabee’s favorability just under a year ago; last July, voters split 57%-26% in his favor.

The expected patterns in the views of Huckabee’s image are shown in the survey’s crosstabs. While he is evaluated poorly by Democrats and younger voters, he performs ably with other groups of Arkansas voters. It is notable that, for a Republican, his image is solid with the state’s African-American voters who split 36%-31% on the former governor.

Clinton also has seen Arkansas voters become slightly more negative since last July, but she started in a much less positive place than did Huckabee. In July, voters split on Clinton 40%-49.5%; in this survey, the electorate breaks 38% “very” or “somewhat” positive as opposed to 53% “very” or “somewhat” negative towards Clinton.

Majorities of Democrats (81%) and African-Americans (58%) and a plurality of those under 30 years of age (49%) view Clinton favorably. She is viewed negatively by all other groups of voters in the state.

As expected, based on these favorability numbers, Huckabee bests Clinton in a prospective 2016 head-to-head presidential matchup in the state. While partisan voters polarize as expected, independents go for Huckabee 50%-35%. Clinton’s only base of geographical strength in the state is the Second Congressional District, where she shows a 47%-43% advantage.

While Clinton does slightly better with female than male voters in the state, the gender gap is modest and Huckabee leads with both groups. Clinton does lead resoundingly with the youngest group of voters (those under 30 favor Clinton over Huckabee 54%-32%) and with African-Americans (who prefer Clinton 69%-20%).

Interestingly, Clinton does run slightly better against Huckabee than against a “generic” Republican opponent in the state. No matter, these early polling numbers suggest that Arkansas will, once again, not be a competitive state in the 2016 presidential contest.

A U.S. Senate race will also be on the ballot in Arkansas in 2016. No Democrat has announced plans to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator John Boozman. We did test the state’s most popular Democratic political figure former Governor Mike Beebe — against Boozman; Beebe has consistently said he will not seek elective office in the future.

Our survey suggests, however, that Beebe would be a formidable opponent if he were to challenge Boozman. Beebe leads a hypothetical contest 45% to 37%, with the remainder of the electorate undecided. Beebe’s strength among traditional Democratic groups is buttressed by a strong showing among groups with whom Arkansas Democrats have had particular challenges in recent years: independents (which Beebe leads 41%-35%); middle-aged voters (Beebe has a plurality lead among those between 30 and 64); and white voters (Beebe leads 43%-41%).

Clint Reed, partner with Impact Management Group who helped construct and analyze the poll, also offered his thoughts:

Hillary Clinton’s ties to Arkansas do nothing to help her political fortunes. In a hypothetical match-up with Mike Huckabee, he clears 50% of the vote, and she draws only 37% of the vote.

She again loses when pitted against the generic “Republican nominee” – getting only 33% of the vote.

In short, Hillary Clinton does not put Arkansas in play as a ‘target state’ in the 2016 election cycle.

Forty-four percent (44%) of Arkansans view her very negatively. While 9% view her somewhat negatively. The negative intensity (53% total negative) toward her is just too much to overcome. Nearly 60% of independent voters view her negatively.

On the other hand, Mike Huckabee is viewed favorably by 47% of Arkansans, while roughly only 1 out of 3 view him negatively.

Arkansas Democrats need a miracle – it’s not Hillary Clinton, but it could be Mike Beebe.

In a hypothetical matchup versus Senator John Boozman for the Senate, Beebe leads by 8 points. This is not improbable. In 2010, Beebe won all 75 counties in his re-election bid and has historically competed well among independent voters. In the hypothetical match-up, Beebe bests Boozman among independent voters by a 41-35% margin.

While it is highly unlikely that Beebe will challenge Boozman, these numbers highlight the type of candidate the Democratic Party needs to compete in southern states like Arkansas. Mike Beebe competes well; Hillary Clinton does not.

DEMOGRAPHICS/METHODOLOGY
The survey was conducted from June 8-11, 2015 among 1,183 likely Arkansas voters. Respondents were surveyed by automated phone calls (80%) and online polling (20%).

The poll has a margin of error of 1.84%. It was weighted for gender, age, and ethnicity according to 2014 exit data. The survey was weighted by Congressional District evenly.

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

For interviews, contact Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock by email at roby@talkbusiness.net, Dr. Jay Barth by email at barth@hendrix.edu, or Clint Reed at creed@impactmanagement.com.

Gender

Female – 52%
Male – 48%

Age

Under 30 – 12%
30 to 44 – 24%
45 to 64 – 39%
65+ – 24%
Refused 1%

Political Party

Democrat – 32%
Republican – 35%
Independent – 28%
Don’t Know – 5%

Ethnicity

African-American – 12%
Caucasian – 83%
Other – 3%
Don’t Know – 2%

Congressional District

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