FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (News release) — In a state where politics has often been driven more by personal ties and face-to-face campaign appeals, rather than ideology and television advertising, local connections in Arkansas should have stoked many instances of primary fever – especially when combined with an open primary process.
Yet, voter turnout for primary contests in the state is inconsistent from contest to contest, said Karen Sebold, teaching assistant professor and director of the undergraduate Legal Studies Program in the Department of Political Science.
“Although the state has low voter turnout, this has not stopped candidates from visiting the state of Arkansas to collect campaign contributions from the big donors who reside here,” Sebold said. “These wealthy influencers are able to provide the maximum donation legally allowed and provide unlimited funds to the super PACs that provide the crucial soft support needed to compete.”
Sebold’s research has shown that candidates of all political affiliations typically visit the state of Arkansas to appear at “big ticket donor events and fancy fundraising dinners with corporate executives from the six Fortune 500 companies in the state, such as Walmart, Tyson Foods, and Murphy Oil.”
Sebold recently wrote an article about Arkansas’ unique role in the primaries for Brookings, “With low turnout, candidates look to Arkansas more for big donors than Super Tuesday voters.”