Arkansas Poll: Big Approval of Mike Beebe, 20-Point Lead for Mitt Romney

The University of Arkansas released its annual Arkansas Poll on Wednesday, showing overwhelming approval of Gov. Mike Beebe and a 20-point preference on the part of likely voters to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama.

The 2012 poll, the university's 14th, was conducted by Issues & Answers Network between Oct. 9-14. Interviewers completed 800 live telephone interviews among a random sample of adult Arkansans.

The survey's margin of error statewide is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The poll's results show:

  • The survey of very likely voters prefer Romney to Obama by 58 percent to 31 percent.
  • Beebe's approval rating remains above 70 percent, where it has been since 2007. U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., is at 45 percent, and U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., is at 53 percent. 
  • Among very likely voters on the question of medical use of marijuana in Arkansas, 53 percent oppose and 43 percent in favor. 
  • Among very likely voters on the proposal to increase the state sales tax to fund road construction, 53 percent approve and 42 percent oppose.
  • Seventy-three percent agreed with the statement that "Arkansas is generally headed in the right direction." 

The poll asked residents about parts of the health care reform law, particularly the expansion of state Medicaid programs. The poll question said: "The federal government will initially pay the entire cost of this expansion, and after several years, Arkansas will pay 10 percent and the federal government will pay 90 percent. Arkansas must decide whether to go ahead with this expansion."  

In response, 45 percent supported keeping Medicaid as is, with no additional federal funding and no change in who is covered. Forty-three percent support expanding Medicaid.

The poll asked about immigration issues, including cases of people who were brought to Arkansas from foreign countries when they were young, not here legally, and who graduate from an Arkansas high school.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents opposed allowing those people to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. Another 33 percent supported giving them access to in-state tuition.

Asked about government policy toward undocumented immigrants, 55 percent favor allowing undocumented immigrants to become U.S. citizens after meeting certain criteria, such as learning English and paying back taxes. Twenty-six percent advocated deporting all undocumented immigrants.

Arkansans' views toward gay marriage are little changed. Fifty-five percent of respondents oppose any legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship. 

The 2012 Arkansas Poll was sponsored by the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society at the University of Arkansas.

The poll was designed and analyzed by Parry, a professor in the department of political science in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas.

Data from current and past polls are available at