Poll: State Supreme Court race remains off the radar

Arkansas residents will decide the race for the state Supreme Court this November, but the latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College poll shows that 6 in 10 voters may not know who they will vote for.

In this latest round of polling, the survey of 974 likely Arkansas voters found incumbent Supreme Court Associate Justice Robin Wynn with 28 percent support to Justice Chris Carnahan’s 13 percent support. 59% of voters are undecided as early voting begins. Respondents were asked:

Question: Thinking about the upcoming nonpartisan judicial race for the Arkansas Supreme Court, Position 2, if the election were held today, which candidate would you vote for?

28% Supreme Court Associate Robin Wynn
13% Judge Chris Carnahan
59% have not decided

“Troublesome campaigns and races for higher-profile candidates have largely drowned out attention to this important race. Judicial campaigns have limits and restrictions on what candidates can do to promote themselves, and this matchup is an illustration of how boring a race can be,” said Robbie Brock, editor-in-chief of Talk Business & Politics.

Talk Business & Politics seeks bipartisan input in the construction and analysis of its polls.

Dr. Jay Barth, professor emeritus of politics at Hendricks College, is active in Democratic Party politics and helped design and analyze the latest survey. He offered the following analysis of the survey results:

“The last race we’re looking at on the ballot this election year is the runoff for the state Supreme Court seat currently held by Associate Justice Robin Wynn. In May’s first round of voting in the race, Wynne came up just short of a majority that would have avoided a runoff. He now faces Chris Carnahan, a state district court judge with strong historical ties to the Republican Party. There has been very little public campaigning in this race leading up to the election, and this lack of campaigning is reflected in the fact that nearly six out of ten Arkansas voters are undecided. Among those with an opinion, however, incumbent Wynne has a two-to-one lead over Carnahan as voting opens in the race.

“Looking at subgroups of voters shows few distinctive attitudes. Wynn, of Dallas County, is running particularly strongly in his home Fourth Congressional District. Perhaps most surprising, however, is Carnahan’s lack of traction among Republican voters, suggesting that his campaign thus far has not reminded his fellow GOP partisans of his past work on behalf of the party and its candidates. Whether he will be able to do so will be known in the final days of the campaign. If not, with a powerful title on the ballot, Wynn looks heavily favored in a race that most thought wouldn’t survive a year ago.”

Robert Coon, managing partner at Impact Management Group, which works with Republican political candidates, also helped produce and analyze the latest survey. He offered the following analysis of the survey results:

“With 59 percent of likely voters undecided about the state Supreme Court race, it’s clear that this nonpartisan race is not on most voters’ radars.” As it stands, Supreme Court Associate Justice Robin Wynn currently has 28%, while his opponent, Justice Chris Carnahan, is at 13%. Wynne leads Democrats (27%-10%), independents (25%-10%) and Republicans (32%-16%), as well as voters with and without a college degree. Arkansas has seen an influx of outside spending on the air in nonpartisan judicial races in recent years, but it hasn’t materialized that cycle in either the primary or the general election. Because judicial candidates tend to have smaller campaign budgets, limited fundraising and lower name recognition, the lack of outside spending means most voters won’t have an opinion of either candidate when they head to the polls, making voting a priority on Election Day.”

The poll of 974 likely Arkansas voters was conducted October 17-18, 2022 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.9%.

Below 30 – 5%
Between 30-44 – 20%
Between 45-64 – 40%
65 and over – 35%

Black 9%
Asian 0.5%
White 86%
Hispanics 1%
Other 3.5%

Party affiliation
Democrat 26%
Independents 27.5%
Republican 42%
Other 4.5%

Women 52%
men 48%

College Graduate 36%
No college graduates 64%

Responses were collected via telephone SMS. The survey is slightly weighted to account for key demographics, including age, ethnicity, education and gender.

All media are welcome to reprint, reproduce or rebroadcast information from this poll with proper attribution to Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College. A link back to this particular story is also required for any digital or online use by other media.

For interviews contact Talk Business & Politics Roby Brock by email at [email protected]

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