I know many of you have been relying on The Arkansas Project for news and analysis of the ongoing GOP legislative primaries around the state. While I’ve been conducting interviews with candidates, my colleague Dan Greenberg over at AAI has been helping to compile a comprehensive report that highlights where candidates stand on many more policy issues.
(Well, at least it highlights where candidates are willing to say they stand.)
This survey was conducted by Commerce In Action. They sent a questionnaire to every legislative primary candidate in Arkansas. Not all candidates responded. In fact, in a few districts, no candidates responded at all. (Candidates from one particular political party were a lot more forthcoming about their views.) But we’ve given you a list of every primary candidate nonetheless. If a candidate chose not to answer, this is indicated by a set of good old-fashioned question marks.
One thing that I particularly like about this questionnaire is that, for the most part, it asks candidates about real, specific proposals that have already come through the legislature in bill form (and cites the particular bills by name, so voters can read the bills themselves). Unfortunately, many questionnaires often ask unrealistic or wildly hypothetical questions (for example, “Do you support cutting state government by 90%?”) That certainly might be a noble goal, and the candidate’s answer might tell us something valuable about their principles — but it also might not. If candidates are asked unrealistic questions, they have an incentive to provide unrealistic answers — because the likelihood that they’ll actually have to face a vote on that particular question is very small.
Enter the Commerce In Action survey: these questions are realistic, significant, and very likely to come before the legislature when or if these candidates become lawmakers. Because of this, voters should have a much better idea how these candidates might vote when they’re faced with similar proposals.
Hats off to Conduit In Action for a great survey, and thanks to all the candidates who took the time to fill it out.
(If you’re a candidate that didn’t return the survey but you’d now like to be included, you can contact Dan at 501-588-4245. If you can get us your survey results in a reasonable time, we’ll do our best to insert them into our report. Act fast: this is a one-time offer!)
Editor’s note, 4/18/14: Originally, we had planned to amend the report with additional candidate responses, in order to permit candidates to submit late answers if they missed the deadline. At the direction of our board, we have decided against this, because we realized that amending the report might be unfair to candidates who complied with the deadline. We apologize for the mix up.