Arkansas Democrats Lead Republicans in Critical State Legislative Races According to New Poll, Indicating Razor-Thin Margins as General Election Starts

Leadership Says Republicans are Failing Arkansas, Governor Maternal Health Order “Simply is Not Enough; It’s Clear Black Maternal Health is Not a Priority for this Administration”

LITTLE ROCK – Today, Democratic Party of Arkansas leadership released details from its first commissioned poll in nearly a decade. The results reveal a slight edge for Democratic state legislative candidates in critical state battleground districts and counties – 47% to 45% according to 970 registered voters in Arkansas surveyed with a 3% margin of error.

Voters were asked about a series of issues, from the LEARNS Act sending public tax dollars to private schools to the legislature’s total ban on abortion that lacks protections for rape and incest victims. After hearing about these issues, the gap in battleground counties narrowed to 2%, within the margin of error, and voters in battleground districts preferred Democratic legislative candidates to Republican legislative candidates by a margin of 49% to 43%. In all other counties, the margin for legislative preference narrowed to 50% Republican and 42% Democratic. 

“We are not asking anyone to become a Democrat to vote for one,” said Grant Tennille, Chair of the Democratic Party of Arkansas and the former Chief Economic Officer of Arkansas. “We understand that our party has an obligation to earn your trust. “Arkansans across our state are sick to death of extremism. Our numbers show competitive races in every corner of the state, and we will spend the next eight months taking our vision for a brighter, healthier, safer, and fairer Arkansas to the voters.” 

This morning, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an executive order purportedly aimed at improving Arkansas’s worst-in-the-nation maternal health rating. This gesture will fall woefully short of addressing the needs of mothers and our families. As it stands, Arkansas, along with a handful of other states, only provides Medicaid coverage for postpartum care for a mere 60 days following childbirth.

“Unfortunately, the executive order signed by Governor Sanders lacks the depth and scope needed to bring about substantial improvements in maternal health outcomes,” said Jannie Cotton, Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Arkansas and the first Black CEO of a series of mental-health facilities in Arkansas. “It’s not enough – today was a photo opportunity.

“What I continue to be concerned about is how this affects Black mothers at higher rates. Black mothers face increased barriers to accessing essential healthcare services, leading to higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity. I want to take a moment to ask Arkansans who look like me: did you see yourself or your family represented in the Governor’s press conference today? I surely didn’t. It’s clear Black maternal health,which is the worst in the nation,is not a priority for this administration.”

The 2021 American Rescue Plan Act gave states an option to extend the coverage to up to 12 months. The federal money that Governor Sanders is refusing for no reason. Right now, 43 states and the District of Columbia have extended postnatal coverage to 12 months. Arkansas Democrats, and many Republican legislators, agree that our state should join them. 

“This is not about being Democrat or Republican; this is about making Arkansas safer for our mothers,” added Cotton. “These bad policy decisions are the reason we continue to be last in the nation on this issue and so many others. The governor’s press conference today is a reminder of what is at stake in this election.”

“We are at the scrimmage line. This is a starting place for an eight month general election,” said Will Watson, Director of Strategy for the Democratic Party of Arkansas. “We expect to see other counties added to this map based on the hard work that our candidates are doing in every corner of the state. As of yesterday, we have nominated a slate of candidates we think will make you proud. We have nominated veterans and ministers, veterinarians and educators, moms, dads, and community leaders from all across Arkansas. Because they have stepped up, our state will have more contested elections for the state legislature than at any time in the past decade.

“Simply put, there is no accountability in this state government with a MAGA Republican supermajority. The only answer is for voters to implement a check on this out of control administration and send a meaningful minority of Democrats back to the state legislature this year.”