Just four percentage points separates first place from fourth place in a new survey of likely Democratic primary voters in Arkansas.
The latest Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College Poll asked 496 likely Democratic primary voters statewide for their preference in the March 3rd Presidential primary. The poll, conducted on Feb. 6-7, 2020, has a margin of error of +/-4.3%.
Q: There are a number of candidates on the ballot in Arkansas running for the Democratic nomination for President. If the election were today, for which of the following would you vote?
19.6% Michael Bloomberg
18.5% Joseph Biden
16.4% Bernie Sanders
15.5% Pete Buttigieg
8.9% Elizabeth Warren
4.8% Amy Klobuchar
3.3% Someone else
2% Andrew Yang
Beyond the candidates listed above, the following Democratic candidates have also qualified for the Arkansas ballot although not all are still in the race. They include: Mosie Boyd; Kamala Harris; John Delaney; Steve Bullock; Cory Booker; Tom Steyer; Marianne Williamson; Joe Sestak; Michael Bennet; Julian Castro; and Tusli Gabbard.
"With three weeks to go, this is certainly a fluid race. Turnout among younger, older or African American voters could rearrange the final position of all of these candidates," said Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock. "I think the logjam at the top in Arkansas is pretty representative of what we’re seeing nationally – there’s no clear frontrunner and the Democratic Party has some major generational divides."
Arkansas has 36 delegates in the Democratic Presidential primary process. It is not a “winner take all” state. Party rules state that any candidate above 15% in the primary vote will be given a percentage of the delegates based upon their placement.
Dr. Jay Barth, emeritus professor of political science at Hendrix College, helped craft and analyze the latest poll. He offered this analysis of the poll results:
In a race where four candidates are within four points at the head of this survey, several things stand out in this race for the lead in the Arkansas Democratic primary.
First, this is one of the first state polls in which Michael Bloomberg has been a legitimate candidate. While the other candidates have had major national coverage, Bloomberg has had the airwaves to himself in Arkansas. As is shown, his hundreds of thousands in ad spending by the former New York City mayor has at least equaled the national media coverage for the three leading other candidates – Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg.
Second, all four are just at or above a magic number in Democratic primaries. To gain delegates, a candidate must reach a 15% threshold. All four of these candidates hit that number suggesting – if all are in the race on March 3rd Arkansas’s 36 delegates will be fairly evenly split.
Third, while voter turnout always is key to determining electoral outcomes, the composition of the Arkansas electorate on March 3rd will truly determine the winner and losers in that race. If it skews as young (or younger) than the 2016 Clinton/Sanders primary, the Vermont Senator might be able to eke out a victory. If it breaks towards older voters, then Bloomberg is advantaged with voters very dependent upon traditional television advertising for their information. Similarly, Biden is advantaged if the electorate is more heavily African-American.
Finally, the list of candidates on the Arkansas ballot on March 3rd will be a long one, but we don’t know which ones will still be legitimate ones on that date. If candidates were to drop out, it frees up a clump of voters in a truly close race. In particular, if Elizabeth Warren and/or Amy Klobuchar were to leave the race, it would create a space for those candidate(s) who can make legitimate appeals to their disproportionately female voters.
The general election campaign in Arkansas will be a yawner as both sides write off the state’s electoral votes to Trump. The next three weeks will be vibrant ones on the state’s airwaves, with door knockers, and with candidate visits. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Robert Coon, managing partner with Impact Management Group, also helped craft and analyze the latest poll. He offered this analysis of the poll results:
The Democratic Primary race for president in Arkansas is very competitive, with roughly four percentage points separating the the top four candidates in this survey. Michael Bloomberg leads the field with the broadest appeal among voters of all age groups while taking nearly 1 in 3 voters over the age of 65.
In second, Joe Biden performs well with voters over the age of 45, but lags with younger voters. As expected, Bernie Sanders’ strength relies mostly with younger voters. He captured more than half of voters under the age of 30 (57%) and more than a third of voters 30 to 44 (38%) in this survey. Pete Buttigieg demonstrated appeal among all age groups, trailing only Bloomberg in the breadth of his support.
In addition to age, fault lines also emerged based on race and ethnicity. 41% of African American voters supported Joe Biden in this survey, followed by Bloomberg (17%), and Sanders (11%). Bloomberg led among white voters (20%), followed by Buttigieg (18%) and Sanders (17%). Men were more favorable to Sanders (25%) and Buttigieg (17%), while Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden benefitted from marginally higher support from women. Bloomberg’s support was relatively even among both men and women.
While the candidates will start pivoting their focus towards Super Tuesday states like Arkansas in the coming days, increasing ad buys and maximizing voter contact, the composition of the Democratic Party primary electorate will have a major impact on the end results. Higher African American turnout will boost Biden’s chances, as well as Bloomberg’s to a lesser degree, while an increase in younger voters would clearly be to the advantage of Sanders.
Historically, the Democratic Party primary has leaned more female than male. Should that trend continue in 2020, the big winners could be Biden, Bloomberg, and Warren, with Sanders and Buttigieg ceding ground.
POLL METHODOLOGY AND DEMOGRAPHICS
This survey of 496 likely Arkansas Democratic primary voters was conducted Feb. 6-7, 2020, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.3%. Respondents were contacted via text message and given a unique link to complete the survey online.
Under 30 8.1%
Between 30-44 18.2%
Between 45-64 40.3%
65 and over 33.4%
Native American 0.6%