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Arkansas Poll: Economy still top concern for the state's voters

The University of Arkansas Old Man building on the Fayetteville campus.
University of Arkansas
The Old Main building on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. The poll was conducted by the school's political science department.

ccording to a new survey from the state’s flagship university, Arkansas voters continue to be most concerned about the economy, politics and drugs. However, concerns about the economy are significantly higher than in the previous two years.

The Arkansas Poll, conducted by the University of Arkansas political science department, was released Thursday (Nov. 3). The poll was conducted through 801 telephone interviews with randomly selected adult Arkansans between Oct. 13 and Oct. 31. It has a margin of +/-3.5%.

While two of the top concerns of Arkansas voters were unchanged from the previous year, the acuity of concern increased for both issues. Concerns about the economy jumped 17 points — from 22% in 2021 to 39% in 2022. The number of people concerned about politics/politicians nearly doubled, jumping from 10% in 2021 to 19% this year.

Reflecting those concerns, the Arkansas Poll saw a 5-point increase from last year in the number of respondents who felt Arkansas was going in the wrong direction and a 19-point increase in the number of people who thought they were doing worse financially compared to last year.

“Economic and political uncertainty are crowding out other concerns this year,” said Janine Parry, director of the Arkansas Poll and professor of political science at the University of Arkansas. “While that’s somewhat in keeping with reality, those big jumps highlight how national events distort local perceptions. Here in Arkansas — which is what the question asks about — most signs point to economic growth and political stability. But in our hyper-nationalized environment, that gets overlooked.”

The survey also included several questions related to abortion. Among respondents, 74% said abortion should be legal when the pregnancy is no longer viable or will not develop into a live birth. When asked if there was a chance of a serious defect in the baby, 54% said abortion should be legal.

According to the results, 78% said abortion should be legal when the pregnancy endangered the mother’s life, and 71% thought it should be legal when her health was in danger. Finally, 70% said driving to another state to get an abortion should not be illegal.

“In overturning Roe v. Wade earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court again permitted individual states to restrict, or even prohibit, legal abortion,” Parry commented. “In Arkansas, that meant a host of laws that were essentially hypothetical suddenly went into effect, including a ban on the procedure unless it is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life.”

“Research long has shown that most people’s views are far more nuanced than political rhetoric captures,” Parry continued, “and that’s what we see here. Only 1 in 6 Arkansans supports wholesale prohibition, with strong majorities supporting additional exceptions for circumstances like fetal anomalies, rape (including incest), and threats to the woman’s physical health.”

Additional questions addressed political party affiliation and ideology, life in Arkansas and opinions about female politicians.

You can find the complete 2022 Arkansas Poll, protocols and historic outcomes at this link.