LITTLE ROCK — Arkansans are more pessimistic about the future and more than a third blame the president and his political party for the recent federal government shutdown, according to the 15th annual Arkansas Poll released Wednesday.
Conducted during the recent government shutdown, the poll found that 37 percent of all participants, as well as 39 percent of those who self identified as very likely voters in the 2014 election, blamed President Obama and the Democratic Party for the shutdown. Only 26 of all respondents, and 27 percent of likely voters, blamed the Republicans in Congress.
Concerning their personal finances, an historic low 14 percent said they were better off financially as compared to a year ago, down nine percentage points from last year’s 23 percent. Only 18 percent of respondents said they expect their financial situation to improve next year, the lowest level of confidence since the question was first asked in 1989.
Also, 24 percent of the respondents said they expect their finances to get worse, up 13 percent last year, well above the most pessimistic past response of 20 percent in 2010.
Janine Parry of the University of Arkansas, conductor of the Arkansas Poll, said it’s difficult to say what has caused Arkansas to become pessimistic in the last year.
"Given there’s really nothing dramatically different from last year in the broader environment, the recent federal government shutdown seems like the obvious culprit," Parry said.
The poll, commissioned by the University of Arkansas and conducted by Issues & Answers Network, surveyed 800 adult Arkansans in live telephone interviews between Oct. 10 and 17.
Twenty percent of respondents were cell phone users. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Parry said Wednesday that of the 800 surveyed, 618 self identified themselves as being very likely to vote in the 2014 elections. Those respondents were asked specific questions about specific candidates and races.