Arkansas zigs as most of the nation zags.
As he was losing nationally to President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 election, Mitt Romney took 60.57 percent of the vote in Arkansas, the biggest share by a Republican presidential candidate since Richard M. Nixon took 68.5 percent in 1972. Romney topped Ronald Reagan’s 60.47 percent in Arkansas in 1984, another landslide year for a Republican president.
Romney’s vote percentage in Arkansas exceeded his national percentage by about 13.09 points at last count. That would be the biggest such gap for a Republican in history, according to a Political Capital analysis of historical election returns.
Romney has 47.48 percent of the national popular vote as states near a final count of ballots, according to an updated tally today by political analyst David Wasserman. In the 2008 election, Republican nominee John McCain won 58.72 percent in Arkansas and 45.65 percent nationwide, for a gap of just under 13.07 points.
For most of its history, Arkansas voted more Democratic than the nation. The state was part of a strongly Democratic “Solid South” that developed after the Civil War.
The pro-Republican shift has been slower in Arkansas than elsewhere in the South partly because of the political influence of former President Bill Clinton, a former Arkansas governor, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Arkansas on Nov. 6 voted Republican for the presidential race in a record fourth consecutive election. Romney also carried all four of the state’s congressional districts, with vote shares ranging from 55 percent in the 2nd District in and around Little Rock, to 65 percent in the 3rd District, located in the state’s northwestern corner. With the re-election of three House Republicans and the victory of Republican Tom Cotton in the state’s other district, numbered the 4th, Arkansas next year will have its first all-Republican House delegation since the Reconstruction era. Republicans also won control of the Arkansas legislature.
The next big tests of Republican strength in Arkansas come in 2014, when Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor is up for re-election and Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe is term-limited. Republicans didn’t field a candidate against Pryor in 2008.