Here’s the second installment of Public Policy Polling’s sounding of Arkansas voters done by phone and Internet at the beginning of the month.
Yesterday showed a clear preference for Republican politicians by the Democratic firm (f in the tossup range for the U.S. Senate race) and today’s results aren’t much different, with the exception of Gov. Mike Beebe. He remains hugely popular, so much so that he leads Republican Sen. John Boozman in a speculative 2016 Senate matchup 46-40. N PPP analysis:
John Boozman meanwhile is one of the lowest profile Senators in the country. A plurality of voters in the state- 38%- have no opinion about him one way or the other. 34% approve of him to 28% who disapprove. Boozman’s big victory in 2010 was really a reflection on voters disliking Blanche Lincoln more than anything else, and it doesn’t appear that Boozman has made much of an impression in his own right.
In a hypothetical 2016 Senate contest, Beebe leads Boozman 46-40. Of course given how close that is despite how overwhelmingly popular Beebe is and how anonymous Boozman is, that suggests about the only way this seat could be competitive in 2016 is if Beebe does run. But it does give another data point showing the extent to which 2014 is not 2010 in Arkansas- in January of 2010 we tested this same hypothetical Beebe/Boozman match up, before Boozman had even entered the Senate race, and found Boozman leading Beebe 44/43.
In presidential news, PPP tested Hillary Clinton against five potential Republican presidential candidates and she trailed them all by 1 (Christie) to 5 points (Bush), with the exception of Mike Huckabee, who enjoyed a 55-39 lead. 42 percent of voters would like to see the Huckster run. PPP asked voters about nine Republican contenders and Huckabee again led the pack, but with only 33 percent, still well ahead of the next highest finisher, Ted Cruz, at 12 percent.
This poll doesn’t help a cherished theory in some Democratic quarters that Hillary on the ticket in 2016 could lead to a Democratic resurgence in Arkansas. I don’t see that, though her presence would undoubtedly excite some base voters and perhaps help turnout. THIS is the year — now or never. And maybe never given the unpopularity of Barack Obama.
Beebe’s approval rating is 60-23. Bill Clinton’s is 50-43, lower than in most states, but not much different from his rating when he first ran for president in 1992 as I recall. He’s always been as polarizing at home as he is in many other places.