A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College poll of Arkansas voters finds two incumbent Supreme Court justices are leading in their re-election bids, but undecided voters could easily alter the final results.
The survey, conducted on Monday May 2, collected the opinions of 1,436 likely voters and has a margin of error of +/- 3.6%. Respondents were asked who they plan to vote for in the two contested nonpartisan Supreme Court races.
Arkansas Supreme Court, Ext. 2
23% – Associate Supreme Court Justice Robin Wynne
9% – Judge Chris Carnahan
8% – David Sterling
60% – Don’t know
Arkansas Supreme Court Position 6
33.5% – Karen Baker, Supreme Court Justice
18.5% – Judge Gunner DeLay
48% – Don’t know
These court results are the final results to be released in the latest round of TB&P-Hendrix polls, which included matchups for the US Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State and Treasurer. Early voting begins Monday, May 9, and Election Day is Tuesday, May 24.
“A lot of people aren’t as sensitive to judicial elections, especially at the state level. Our latest poll confirms this disconnect,” said Roby Brock, editor of Talk Business & Politics. “Having said that, the two serving tribunal members are one step ahead of their opponents. Unless something very influential happens between now and Election Day, their titles increase their chances of re-election.
Talk Business & Politics seeks bipartisan input in the construction and analysis of its polls.
Dr. Jay Barth, professor emeritus of politics at Hendrix College, is active in Democratic Party politics and helped craft and analyze the latest poll. He offered this analysis of the survey results:
“A wave of justice-oriented positions will also be on the statewide ballot in a nonpartisan primary that will be held in conjunction with the party primaries this spring. This includes many judge and prosecutor positions. Two of those races — for the state Supreme Court — are statewide elections and we’ve looked at them. In each case, fairly moderate incumbents of the Supreme Court (each able to identify with an incumbent’s powerful title) face candidates with deep ties to the Republican Party based on their past elections or their work on behalf of elected GOP officials. . One of the two – Justice Karen Baker – has the added bonus of being the only woman to vote for the Supreme Court; in recent elections, women have done particularly well in state court races.
“The other incumbent – Judge Robin Wynne – shows a lead over his two opponents: Circuit Judge Chris Carnahan and David Sterling. However, six in ten voters are unclear about their intention to vote in the race for position. 2 in the field, which means that while Wynne is well-positioned for a spot in a run-off in November, it’s unclear how close he can get to avoid a second-round race. Carnahan has a slight advantage over Sterling for second place and his judging title certainly gives him an advantage, but this race is very up for grabs.
“Judge Baker is in a stronger position with the votes of about a third of those who expect to vote in the race and a healthy lead over Circuit Judge (and former GOP lawmaker) Gunner DeLay. Yet just under half of voters are unsure of their intention to vote in the race, casting doubt on its outcome, particularly if outside money plays a significant role in the campaign debate in the next days.
“Both incumbents are doing particularly well to voters of color, Democratic and independent voters, and voters with a college degree. Their opponents work well with Republicans, as you might expect, and Carnahan’s slight advantage over Sterling stems from his strength among GOP voters.
Robert Coon, managing partner of Impact Management Group, which works with Republican political candidates, also helped develop and analyze the latest poll. He offered this analysis of the survey results:
“60% of likely primary voters are undecided about their choice in the race for Position 2. Associate Supreme Court Justice Robin Wynne leads the pack by a small margin, largely based on his voting title. Wynne scores a few points better with Democratic primary voters (26%) than with Republican primary voters (20%). Judge Chris Carnahan gets more support from Republican primary voters (12%) than those who vote in the Democratic primary (7%). David Sterling enjoys similar support among both groups. Along the age lines, Wynne’s highest support comes from voters under 30 (28%) and those over 65 (25%).
“The current group of undecideds in this race broadly matches the overall survey group, apart from being slightly more female, so no clear advantage emerges for any particular candidate. However, the two candidates for the titles of “ judge” and “justice” should have a slight advantage for a victory or a second round.
“Supreme Court Justice Karen Baker is currently leading the race for position 6 with 34% of the vote. Baker has a seven percentage point lead over Justice Gunner DeLay among Republican primary voters and a 28 percentage point lead among Democratic primary voters. The narrower gap among Republican primary voters is because the candidates are tied (27% each) among those who identify as Republicans. Clearly DeLay has made inroads with Republican base voters, but with Baker having a decent base of support in both primary camps, DeLay will need to win over Republican primary voters by a comfortable margin to win this contest.
The survey of 1,436 likely GOP, Democratic, nonpartisan voters was conducted on May 2, 2022 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.6%.
Responses were collected by text message to an online survey and by telephone. The poll is lightly weighted to account for key demographics including age, ethnicity, education and gender. Additional methodology is available upon request.
All media are welcome to reprint, reproduce or repost information from this survey with proper attribution to Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College. A link to this specific story is also required for any digital or online uses by other media.
For interviews, contact Talk Business & Politics Roby Brock by email at [email protected]