Poll: Beebe’s approval rating high, coattails short

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Beebe continues to enjoy a high approval rating but his political coattails may not extend far, a new poll suggests.

The Talk Business-Hendrix College poll released Tuesday found that when respondents were asked if they approve or disapprove of the job the Democratic governor is doing, 64.5 percent said they approve and 18.5 percent said they disapprove. Seventeen percent said they did not know.

When asked if Beebe’s endorsement of a legislative candidate would influence their vote in a positive way, 29 percent of respondents said it would and 48 percent said it would not. Twenty-three percent did not know.

The poll of 868 likely Arkansas voters was conducted Thursday via automated phone calls. The margin of error is 3.3 percent.

The results suggest that “Arkansans are resistant to endorsements having much power, even when that endorsement comes from a governor who has maintained such incredibly high approval ratings across time,” said Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College who was appointed by Beebe to the state Board of Education.

“Clearly, the governor has been very visible on TV airwaves in ads this season, but it’s also fair to say he’s been playing more defense than offense in those ads,” Barth said.

Beebe is not on the Nov. 6 ballot and is prevented by term limits from seeking a third term in 2014, but he has been campaigning for a number of Democratic legislative candidates who are running on the theme that they will work with Beebe to further his agenda.

Beebe also has been touting, in speeches and TV ads, Arkansas’ economic growth during his tenure. The state Republican Party has challenged Beebe’s claims, accusing him of overstating the state’s achievements in various ways.

“When plainly asked, voters do not seem persuaded to vote for a Beebe-endorsed candidate. We’ll have to see if the Democrats’ message of supporting Beebe’s agenda will overcome the national riptide of Republicanism that is taking place in Arkansas,” said Roby Brock, executive editor of Talk Business and a business columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau.