Beneath Arkansas’s red surface (it went for Bush in 2000 and 2004) lies a blue underbelly: Five of six congressional seats are held by Democrats, as are many state and local offices. According to Janine Parry, a political science professor at the University of Arkansas, 35 to 39 percent of voters are self-identified Democrats, while only about 25 percent are Republicans. She expects that the Democratic primary turnout will be at least four times the Republican.
That said, neither race is expected to be competitive, as each features a former resident of the Governor’s Mansion: former First Lady Hillary Clinton and former Governor Mike Huckabee. However, their opponents have a chance at picking off some delegates.
Delegates: Democrats, 47; Republicans, 34.
Format: Open, proportional primaries for both parties.
Recent Polls: The last poll in Arkansas was taken in December, and showed Clinton leading Obama and Edwards 39-16-16, while Huckabee led Giuliani and McCain 39-13-11.
Democratic In-State Fundraising: Clinton: $726,241; John Edwards: $44,000; Barack Obama: $38,073.
Republican In-State Fundraising: Mike Huckabee: $651,694; John McCain: $34,370; Rudy Giuliani: $29,850; Mitt Romney: $24,800.
Endorsements: Given the Democratic stranglehold on state and local politics, Clinton has gathered far more endorsements than her Democratic and Republican competitors, including Huckabee. She can crowd-surf to victory on the hands of the state’s political establishment: Governor Mike Beebe, Senator Mark Pryor, three of its four congressmen, two former senators, and the state attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, and house speaker.
Demographics: Robert Cochran of the Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies at the University of Arkansas describes the state as divided into a series of quadrants, with the economic power concentrated in the northwest and the other three relatively stagnant. Clinton figures to fare best in this northwestern area, home to a large number of the state’s booming Hispanic population. Obama should fare better in the other quadrants, which house a disproportionate share of the state’s African American community, which makes up 16 percent of the state’s overall population, and, Parry thinks, about 20-25 percent of the Democratic electorate.
Huckabee is popular statewide, though there are pockets of discontent among business conservatives in the state’s Northwest that Parry expects will go to Romney and McCain--but not in large enough numbers to sink Huckabee’s victory.
Get a rundown of other states at play at TNR's Super Tuesday Primer, updated with new states every day leading up to February 5.