Arkansas Poll shows increased pessimism, concern over economy
Posted: October 23, 2013 at 9:06 a.m.
Arkansans are "dramatically" more pessimistic about the future and have again identified the economy as the top problem facing the state, according to the 15th annual Arkansas Poll.
The study was conducted earlier this month during the federal shutdown through telephone interviews Oct. 10-17 with a random sample of 800 adults in Arkansas. The poll carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Sixty-three percent of respondents agreed Arkansas is generally headed in the right direction, which tied for the lowest level in the poll's history and marked a 10-point drop from a year earlier, according to a statement from the poll's sponsor, the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society at the University of Arkansas.
The economy was listed as the top problem by 44 percent of respondents. Twelve percent answered health care.
Only 14 percent of respondents said they were better off financially from the prior year, the lowest level in the poll's history and down from 23 percent when asked in 2012. Nearly a quarter of Arkansans polled said they expected finances to get worse, up from 13 percent last year and the previous high of 20 percent in 2010, officials said.
“It’s impossible to say for certain what has caused such pessimism among Arkansans,” poll director Janine Parry said in a statement. “Given there’s really nothing dramatically different from last year in the broader environment, the recent federal government shutdown seems like the obvious culprit.”
On the shutdown, 37 percent of all respondents and 39 percent of likely voters said it was President Barack Obama and the Democrats' fault. Twenty-six percent of all respondents at 27 percent of likely voters said Republicans were to blame.
U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., had his lowest approval rating ever in the poll at 34 percent of likely voter compared with 45 percent last year. Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor's rating also dipped to 34 percent from 53 percent a year earlier.
Gov. Mike Beebe's approval rating fell from 72 percent to 68 percent.
Obama got only a 29 percent approval rating, with 66 percent of respondents disapproving of his performance.