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Poll: Arkansas Supreme Court race is flying under the radar

Arkansas Supreme Court
The Arkansas Supreme Court building on the state Capitol grounds.

Arkansans will decide a state Supreme Court race this November, but the latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll suggests 6 in 10 voters may not know for whom they will vote.

In this last round of polling, the survey of 974 likely Arkansas voters found incumbent Supreme Court Associate Justice Robin Wynne with 28% support to Judge Chris Carnahan’s 13% support. 59% of voters are undecided as early voting begins. Respondents were asked:

Q: Thinking about the upcoming non-partisan judicial race for Arkansas Supreme Court, Position 2, if the election were held today, which of the candidates would you vote for?

28%  Supreme Court Associate Justice Robin Wynne
13%  Judge Chris Carnahan
59%  Undecided

“Issue campaigns and higher profile candidate races have pretty much drowned out attention to this important race. Judicial campaigns have restraints and limits on what candidates can do to promote themselves, and this match-up is an illustration of how low-key a race can be,” said Roby Brock, Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief.


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

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

“The final race we examine in this election year’s polling is that for the runoff for the state Supreme Court seat currently held by Associate Justice Robin Wynne. In the May first round of voting in the race, Wynne came up just short of a majority that would have avoided a runoff. He now faces Chris Carnahan, a state Circuit Court Judge with strong historic ties to the Republican Party. Very little public campaigning has occurred in this race in the lead up to the election and that absence of campaigning is shown in the fact that nearly six in ten Arkansas voters are undecided in the race. Among those with an opinion, however, the incumbent Wynne has a two-to-one advantage over Carnahan as voting begins in the race.

“Looking across subgroups of voters, little distinctive attitudes are shown. Wynne, from Dallas County, does run particularly strongly in his native Fourth Congressional District. Perhaps most surprising, however, is Carnahan’s lack of strength with Republican voters suggesting that his campaign has not, to date, reminded his fellow GOP partisans of his previous work on behalf of the party and its candidates. It will be determined if he can do that in the closing days of the campaign. If not, with a potent title on the ballot, Wynne appears significantly advantaged in a race most thought he would not survive a year ago.”

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

“With 59% of likely voters undecided on the state Supreme Court race, it’s evident that this non-partisan race is not on the radar of most voters. As it stands, Supreme Court Associate Justice Robin Wynne currently sits at 28% while his opponent Judge Chris Carnahan sits at 13%. Wynne leads with Democrats (27%-10%), Independents (25%-10%), and Republicans (32%-16%) as well as voters with and without a college degree. In recent years, Arkansas has seen an influx of outside spending on the airwaves in non-partisan judicial races, yet that hasn’t materialized this cycle in either the primary or general election. As judicial candidates tend to have smaller campaign budgets, limited fundraising, and lower name identification, the lack of outside spending means most voters won’t have an opinion of either candidate when they head to the polls, making ballot title an advantage on Election Day.”


The survey of 974 likely Arkansas voters was conducted Oct. 17-18, 2022 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.9%.

Under 30 – 5%
Between 30-44 – 20%
Between 45-64 – 40%
65 and over – 35%

Black 9%
Asian 0.5%
White 86%
Hispanic 1%
Other 3.5%

Party affiliation
Democrat 26%
Independent 27.5%
Republican 42%
Other 4.5%

Female 52%
Male 48%

College graduate 36%
Non-college graduate 64%

Responses were collected via SMS by phone. The poll is slightly weighted to account for key demographics including age, ethnicity, education, and gender.

This story comes from the staff of Talk Business & Politics, a content partner with KUAR News. You can hear the weekly program on Mondays at 6:06 p.m.