by Max Brantley
Here's the Daily Kos poll promised last week on Arkansas political feelings.
U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln leads, but can't crack 50 percent, against any Republican challenger (the best any Repub can do is 37 percent but the crop is currently mostly unknown). Polling was done before her elevation to Agri chair, but I doubt that matters much with rank-and-file voters.
(A random thought: The generic 37 percent for a Republican is probably close to the mark. Note that both Sen. Gilbert Baker and Curtis Coleman hit that level. Baker is pretty prominent and powerful as legislators go. I think this poll tells you -- or it should tell ambitious legislators -- a lot about the statewide value of being a member of the legislature. Despite the kowtowing lawmakers enjoy under the dome and in lobby assemblies, they don't seem to make much of a ripple elsewhere.)
A majority in Arkansas-- 55 percent -- support a public health insurance option. (Republicans don't like it much, but even 1-in-5 support it, better than you see among Repubs in Congress.) COPY TO MIKE ROSS.
A majority, but only 63 percent, think President Obama was born in the U.S.
His summmary on the jump
2010 Senate race
Blance Lincoln (D) 44
Gilbert Baker (R) 37
Blance Lincoln (D) 45
Curtis Coleman (R) 37
Blance Lincoln (D) 46
Tom Cox (R) 29
Blance Lincoln (D) 47
Kim Hendren (R) 28
Lincoln is under the 50 percent "safe" mark for incumbents, despite facing a lineup of potential foes unknown by 75-85 percent of poll respondents. There is certainly room for those Republicans to make gains -- or lose support -- as they become better known. Still, Lincoln's electoral prospects won't be harmed by the health care debate, as the public option polls extremely well in Arkansas.
Do you favor or oppose creating a government-administered health insurance option that anyone can purchase to compete with private insurance plans?
Favor Oppose Not Sure
All 55 38 7
Dem 81 14 5
Rep 22 71 7
Ind 56 34 10
While the two Arkansas Senators have waffled on health care reform, fact is that the public option is solidly popular with both Democrats AND Independents. And with 22 percent of Republicans also approving, that is more "bipartisanship" than you'll ever see in Washington D.C. Any opposition to the public option by the Arkansas Senators can't be justified with public opinion.
Incidentally, not all our polling has shown strong public support for the public option. A Nebraska poll from a couple of weeks ago, in fact, found the opposite: http://www.dailykos.com/statepoll/2009/8/19/NE/349. We use a non-partisan media pollster and publish all results, whether they're good for our side or not.
As we do in every state that we now poll, we asked whether respondents believed President Barack Obama was born in the United States. As we've found nearly everywhere else, 2/3rds of Republicans don't believe Obama was born in the U.S.
Do you believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America or not?
Yes No Not Sure
All 63 17 20
Dem 84 8 8
Rep 33 29 38
Ind 68 16 16