The economy is the top concern for Arkansans, and most support gun licensing and background checks for gun purchases, according to the 21st annual Arkansas Poll, released Wednesday by the University of Arkansas.
The poll, designed and analyzed by UA political science professor Janine Parry, surveyed 811 people by phone between Oct. 12 and Oct. 24. The statewide margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The full results are available here.
In a news release, Parry said that on questions related to gun and immigration laws, Arkansans generally hold similar views to those found in national polls.
"Outsiders, but just as frequently those who live here, often presume the average Arkansan holds views markedly different from the average American," Parry said. "On most issues, most of the time, we actually track pretty closely with national patterns."
When asked about background checks to buy guns at shows or from private parties, 85% of respondents said they should be required; 13% said they should not. Nationally, those numbers are 83 and 14%, respectively, according to a September poll by Pew Research.
On the question of creating a "red flag" law to permit the temporary removal of guns by court order, 85 percent thought such a law should be created, while 13% did not, results that are within two percentage points of national findings, Parry said.
Among other gun-related findings, 56% said Congress should ban sale of semi-automatic assault-style rifles; 40% said it should not.
The survey also examined immigration issues. Asked whether immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be given a chance to become citizens if they meet certain requirements, 79% said yes, while 19% said no, which is within two percentage points of respondents nationally.
The survey found that Arkansans strongly favor hiring more border patrol agents, 73%-20%. They also favor construction of walls on the U.S.-Mexico border, 55%-42%. And they favor deporting all immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, 48%-44%.
The poll also asked how Arkansans feel about their elected representatives, their political affiliations and life in the state.
The report found:
- A three-point increase in the percentage of people who identify as Republicans (35%) over last year, with a corresponding decrease in those who identify as Democrats (23%) and independents (31%).
- "The economy" ranked as the most important concern facing Arkansas today (29%), followed by health care (9%) and education (8%).
- An increase in the percentage of Arkansans who say the state is headed in the right direction (71%) and a corresponding decrease who say it is headed in the wrong direction (20%).
The poll asked respondents about their approval of specific politicians.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson received 65% approval of very likely voters, down 2 percentage points from last year; 21% disapproved, down 4 percentage points from last year; 14% didn't know or didn't answer, up 2 points from last year.
Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman received 42% approval of very likely voters, down 1 percentage points from last year; 27% disapproved, down 10 percentage points from last year; 31% didn't know or didn't answer, up 11 percentage points from last year.
Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton received 51% approval of very likely voters, up 3 percentage points from last year; 33% disapproved, down 7 percentage points from last year; 16% didn't know or didn't answer, up 4 points from last year.
President Donald Trump received 53% approval of very likely voters, the same as last year; 44% disapproved, the same as last year; 3% didn't know or didn't answer, the same as last year.
The poll asked respondents about other issues, including global warming, or climate change. Among very likely voters, 66% said they don't think climate change will post a serious threat to them in their lifetime; 30% said they do think it will; 5% didn't know or didn't answer.