by Max Brantley
Rasmussen Reports puts the race for governor at 45 Mike!-41 A$a! Its commentary:
In a political season filled with bad news from the GOP, our latest Arkansas poll shows a trend moving in the other direction. State Attorney General Mike Beebe’s (D) lead continues to evaporate in his gubernatorial contest with former Congressman Asa Hutchinson (R). Beebe now leads Hutchinson 45% to 41% (see crosstabs). For most of the year, the Democrat enjoyed a double digit lead. Then, July’s survey showed Beebe on top 47% to 40%.
Beebe recently began an early TV advertising campaign, prompting some observers to conclude that his campaign team sees the race tightening as well. While Beebe reports raising more money than Hutchinson, they have roughly equal amounts of cash on hand.
The current poll shows Hutchinson performing better with his base, pulling support from 81% of GOP voters. Comparatively, 73% of Democrats say they support Beebe.
Twenty-two percent (22%) of Arkansas voters have a very favorable opinion of Beebe; 20% say the same for Hutchinson. Their paths diverge at the other end of the spectrum, though. Only 8% of voters report having a very unfavorable view of Beebe compared to 14% for Hutchinson.
Forty-six percent (46%) of Arkansas voters approve of the way George W. Bush is performing his role as President.
The man Beebe and Hutchinson hope to replace, Governor Mike Huckabee (R), earns a 61% approval rating.
Eighty-three percent (83%) of Arkansas voters define marriage as the union of a man an a woman only; 75% believe the Bible is literally true; 69% say election ballots should be printed in English only; and 55% define their position on abortion as pro-life.
Statistically, this number is little different from the 46-40 recorded back in January. That suggests to us that neither candidate is moving anybody much. But maybe it's just our personal feeling about the two campaigns speaking. The Bush approval rating is out of synch (high) than others I've seen (35 by Survey USA). So maybe that's a shred of comfort for the Beebe camp. Also, Survey USA's most recent favorability rating on Gov. Huckabee had it 53-43, a good bit lower than what Rasmussen found. So maybe Rasmussen oversampled NW Ark. (to borrow the reverse of a favorite GOP rationale when surveys go against Republican candidates.)
PS -- Another poll on this race can be expected this week.
UPDATE: We can now tell you that the poll yet to come today is by Little Rock's Opinion Research for Stephens Media and they are partnering with Fox 16 to release the gubernatorial numbers tonight at 9 p.m. (You'll see the headline on our homepage, too, as soon as Fox 16 posts it.) We think you'll want to tune in.