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John Davis, political scientist, explains how Arkansas became a Republican state

A poll conducted by the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville shows 23 percent of the people in the state think healthcare is the most important problem.
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In recent years, Arkansas has become one of the reddest states in the nation. Prior to this, Arkansas used to be a Democratic stronghold.

In an interview with KARK Channel 4’s Capitol View, John Davis, executive director of the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History, explained how Arkansas went from being a Democratic state to a Republican state.

In an interview with KARK Channel 4’s Capitol View, Davis said the state took longer than the rest of the South to become a Republican state.

“Our demographics don’t really add up to the other southern states. A lot of the shifts really after the Civil War we saw more white conservatives feel alienated from the Democratic party and gravitate toward the Republican party. We didn’t really see that,” Davis said.

He added having skilled Democratic politicians like Bill Clinton helped Democrats stay in power.

Davis said the nationalization of politics and the national Democratic party being out of line with Arkansans is one of the reasons why the state has become a Republican state. He said state Democratic lawmakers used to be able to distinguish themselves from the national Democratic party.

Davis said he doesn’t see the Democrats being able to become the majority party once again.

“We don’t see any real connection with the Democratic party. You sprinkle in negative partisanship, where we’re voting more against something than for somebody,” he said.

Currently, Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature, the governorship, and all the congressional seats.

Ronak Patel is a reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.