By John C. Davis
The Arkansas Preferential Primary Election and Nonpartisan General Election will be held on March 3rd (with early voting beginning on February 18th).
According to the most recently released Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College Poll, The poll asked 496 likely Arkansas Democratic primary voters who they preferred in the upcoming primary election. According to the results of the poll, Democrats in the state are virtually split between former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (19.6%), former Vice President Joe Biden (18.5%), U.S. Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders (16.4%), and former South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (15.5%).
While Bloomberg’s rise in both national and statewide polls is noteworthy, the results of this poll are not so much telling us who is most favored, but how tight the field of candidates currently remains (the margin for error in the poll is +/- 4.3%) and how fluid preferences are (with 11% of respondents stating that they are undecided). Furthermore, 2% of those polled indicated a preference for Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who has since dropped out of the race.
Yang’s departure from the field is a reminder to political observers that the field of candidates continues to winnow and may become smaller still, prior to March 3rd. Given the timing of the poll (conducted on February 6-7), I expect to see considerable movement in Arkansans Democrats’ preferences between now and March 3rd as observers continue to consume media coverage of last night’s New Hampshire Primary results and will soon watch returns from Nevada and South Carolina.
Each candidate is seeking to claim what George H.W. Bush once called “the ‘big Mo’” whereby a candidate capitalizes on favorable caucus and/or primary results, creating a media narrative that he or she has become the front-runner. To date, one day after the New Hampshire Primary, we have not yet seen momentum clearly advantage anyone in the field of candidates. However, it is becoming clearer that Biden and Warren—once considered favorites for the nomination—are failing to meet expectations at the polls. On March 3rd, Arkansas will be one of several states who have opted to hold their primary on “Super Tuesday.” Following this multi-state coordinated primary date, we can expect significant winnowing of the field of candidates. Who will remain in the race after March 3rd, at this point, is anyone’s guess.