----------PAST KEY RACES----------
2016: President | Senate
2014: Governor | AR-2 | AR-4
2010: Governor | Senate | AR-1 | AR-2 | AR-4
2006: Governor | AR-1 | AR-2 | AR-3 | AR-4
2004: President | Senate | AR-2
|Final Results||--||--||--||65.4||31.7||Hutchinson +33.7|
|Talk Business/Hendrix College*Talk Business/Hendrix College*||10/18 - 10/19||528 LV||4.3||60||24||Hutchinson +36|
|The Arkansas PollThe Arkansas Poll||10/1 - 10/28||618 LV||3.9||59||35||Hutchinson +24|
|Talk Business/Hendrix College*Talk Business/Hendrix College*||9/5 - 9/7||1701 LV||2.4||60||25||Hutchinson +35|
|Mason-DixonMason-Dixon||3/21 - 3/24||625 LV||4.0||63||24||Hutchinson +39|
The ascent of the Republican Party in most Southern states usually involved some combination of three factors: a vestigial GOP left over from Reconstruction, which provided a base of support; a split in the Democratic Party between conservatives and populists; and a booming metropolis that attracted Northern Republicans southward. States with all three factors present realigned early (Virginia, Texas) while those with fewer factors took longer to fully realign (Georgia, Alabama).
Arkansas is a somewhat unique Southern state. There was a small Republican Party in the northwest, but there was never a booming metropolis attracting Northerners, and it traditionally didn't have a deep divide between conservatives and populists. The state also produced talented, centrist Democratic politicians who have managed to keep a strong coalition together in the state. As a result, Arkansas had the strongest Democratic Party in the South for most of the post-Civil Rights Act elections.
Mike Beebe governed in the tradition of these centrists and insulated himself from the general decline in the fortunes of Democratic governors across the country in the 2010 elections. But Beebe was term-limited in 2014, and Republican Asa Hutchinson won the governorship against a credible Democratic opponent. The early polling suggests that Hutchinson starts out heavily favored for re-election.