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The most recent edition of the Arkansas Poll -- that annual contribution of political and social issue polling from the University of Arkansas' Political Science Department is out.

The trends, shown since its inception in 1999, remain strong.

Arkansas as a state and its people -- my fellow Arkansans -- are a highly opinionated and tough lot to "button hole" into any "average" spot.

Fiercely independent thinkers when it comes to politicians -- Arkansans are, however, trending more and more like most of the nation -- or at least the Southern part of the United States these days.

Here are some of the real nuggets to dwell on from the most recent Arkansas Poll and its lead pollster Dr. Jeanine Parry.

• Gov. Asa Hutchinson, now in the second and final term as Arkansas' Chief Executive has the top satisfaction rating. Hutchinson is at a 61 percent favorable rating with only 19 percent of the population giving a negative or disapproval rating. In the Arkansas Poll some 21 percent were non-responsive on this issue. Gov. Hutchinson is not eligible for re-election in 2020 and the governor's office is not contested until 2021.

• Arkansas' junior senator, Tom Cotton, who is standing for re-election this election cycle is at only a 45 percent approval rating. And, 30 percent of the respondents to the poll disapproved of Cotton, while 25 percent were not saying their choice.

• U.S. Sen. John Boozman, the state's senior U.S. Senator, had mixed numbers as well. Only 39 percent of the poll's respondents favor Boozman, while 24 percent disapprove of his performance. Again more than one-third or 36 percent had no opinion on his performance.

Arkansans, according to the Arkansas Poll, were more divided on President Donald Trump's popularity in the White House.

Exactly 50 percent of those polls favored President Trump, while 45 percent did not approve of his actions in the White House. Only 5 percent did not respond.

The Arkansas Poll has noted over the past 21 years a tendency for the state -- as independent as its voting patterns may have been -- to lean more toward conservatism than being liberal thinking.

The Arkansas Poll asked Arkansans to classify themselves by political leanings. Only 14 percent called themselves "liberal," while 34 percent identified their thinking as "conservative."

Since 2008, when the Arkansas Poll, began asking participants to identify their political persuasions, the state has never been lower than 43 percent or higher than 47 percent as "conservative."

Those saying they tended to be "liberals" have ranged from a low of 13 percent to a high of 20 percent during this same time period.

The Arkansas Poll still shows Arkansans favor enhanced gun legislation (52%); yet 44 percent favor "stricter gun control, while 43 percent want the laws left alone.

Arkansans, overwhelmingly (90 percent), said they favor legislation increasing funds for mental health screening and treatment. Some 76 percent said they would favor creating a "red flag" law to remove guns from those who might harm others or themselves.

Amid many other issues, the Arkansas Poll, asked about political affiliations.

There was little surprise as a solid 35 percent identified themselves as Republicans, the highest figure in the poll's history.

Those saying they were Democrats dropped to a new low for the poll of 23 percent.

Those saying they were for another party or Independent rose to 31 percent.

So in polling snap-shot, which is the Arkansas Poll, you have statistics to chew on as the 2020 election season filing is still under way.

-- Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 11/13/2019

Print Headline: Trump still rides high in Arkansas; Asa tops local polls

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