Vic Snyder (AR-02)

Vic Snyder (AR-02)

FDL/SurveyUSA poll, 1/11-1/13, likely voters, Margin of Sampling Error: ± 3.9%

If there were an election for US House of Representatives today, and the only two candidates on the ballot were Democrat Vic Snyder and Republican Tim Griffin, who would you vote for?

Vic Snyder (D) 39%
Tim Griffin (R) 56%
Undecided 5%

In a new SurveryUSA poll sponsored by Firedoglake, incumbent Democrat Vic Snyder is trailing Republican challenger Tim Griffin by a wide margin in the race for Arkansas’s 2nd Congressional district. If the election were held today, Snyder would get 39% of the vote, Griffin would get 56%, with only 5% undecided. These numbers show strong movement in the Republican’s favor. A poll from November 16, by Public Policy Polling, had Snyder statistically even with Griffin, 44% to 43%.

The real danger for Snyder comes from self-identified independents. Snyder manages to win only 23% of independents, while Griffin currently takes 71% of this group. This might be partly explained by Obama’s very low job approval numbers in the district. Only 35% of voters approve of Obama’s job performance, while 61% disapprove:

Do you approve or disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as President?

Approve 33%
Disapprove 63%
Not Sure 4%

Individual Mandate

The individual mandate penalty in the health care proposal now before Congress is extremely unpopular in this central Arkansas district. When asked if they thought it, in general, a good or bad idea to require Americans to carry health insurance, 36% thought it was a good idea, while 58% thought it was a bad idea. But when asked if it were fair or unfair to actually fine people 2% of their income if they do not carry private health insurance, even that limited support tanked: 76% of people thought this specific penalty to be unfair. Even 59% of Democrats believe fining someone for not having private health insurance is unfair.

Voting for the individual mandate isn’t going to help Snyder, who loses six points to Griffin on the issue:

Assume Vic Snyder votes to pass the version of the health care law that DOES require every American to carry private health insurance. If there were an election for US House of Representatives and the only two candidates on the ballot were Democrat Vic Snyder and Republican Tim Griffin, who would you vote for?

Vic Snyder (D) 35%
Tim Griffin (R) 58%
Undecided 7%

Many have argued the individual mandate will be essential in 2014 to make the new health care system–based on exchanges, tax credits, private insurance, and community rating–workable. The important political question is: Can Democrats disseminate this complex defense of the individual mandate in an easily understandable and popular way before the midterm election?

Most interestingly, the majority of the district is not actually opposed to the general idea of health care reform:

Would you prefer Representative Vic Snyder to vote for the version of the health care law that includes the requirement to carry private health insurance? To vote for a version of health care reform that does NOT include this requirement? Or, to vote against any health care bill?

For bill with requirement: 22%
For bill without requirement: 25%
Against Any bill: 48%
Not Sure:

Only 48% of Snyder’s constituency actually want him to vote against any possible health care bill. It would appear that a health care bill without some of its most unpopular components, like the individual mandate, could still possibly gain majority support in this relatively conservative district.

Arkansas represents a relatively cheap media market that includes several Congressional votes deemed important to passage of a health bill.   As a result, it has received a disproportionately large share of pro- and anti-health care reform ads. Our poll results may or may not be indicative of the rest of the country, but we will soon find out–FDL is following up with similar polls in several other House districts.

Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at