Mon, Oct 30, 2023 2:23 PM
By Kim Jarrett, The Center Square
Thirty-six percent of participants in the 25th annual Arkansas poll said their greatest concern is the economy, while another 35% did not know or answer the question.
Pollsters queried 801 Arkansans by phone between Oct. 4 and Oct. 25 on questions ranging from gun control, abortion and approval of public figures.
Fourteen percent said they were most concerned about politicians, while 3% said they were most concerned about taxes.
The poll, conducted by the University of Arkansas, shows Gov. Huckabee Sanders' approval rating at 48% in her inaugural term, with 39% of respondents saying they disapproved of the job she is doing. Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson's approval rating during his last term in office was 59%.
The last time a governor received an approval rating of less than 48% in the poll was in 2003, when Sanders' father, Mike Huckabee, was given a 47% approval rating by respondents.
Sanders fared better than other politicians. Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman earned 42% and 40%, respectively.
The approval rating for President Joe Biden is 33%, up from 31% in 2022 and 30% in 2021, according to the poll. Former President Donald Trump's approval rating was 58% when he left office in 2020.
Despite their dissatisfaction with state politicians, 61% said they felt like Arkansas was heading in the right direction, up from 55% last year. The number of residents who believe the state is going the wrong way dropped from 33% last year to 32%.
Alexa Henning, Sanders' communications director, said on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, that the results show residents are feeling more optimistic.
"Under the Governor's leadership, Arkansans have more money in their bank accounts, families have choice in their education, more Arkansans are working, and businesses are flooding to the Natural State," Henning said.
More residents are dissatisfied than satisfied with public schools, according to the poll. Just 45% said they were happy, with 47% saying the opposite.
Arkansas lawmakers passed a massive omnibus education bill this year that included funding for school choice, teacher raises and school safety. The bill was opposed by the Arkansas Education Association, which called the bill a "voucher scheme."
Forty percent of Arkansas residents say they want stricter gun control laws, but the number of residents saying they favor less strict laws increased from 14% in 2022 to 19% this year.
The number of Arkansans favoring easier abortion access increased from 33% last year to 38% this year. Twenty-nine percent said they wanted laws that would make it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion, while 25% said the laws should stay the same.