Arkansas House District 97 includes parts of Madison, Washington, and Carroll Counties in the northwest corner of the state. The district’s largest urban areas are the dual-county seat cities of Carroll County – Eureka Springs and Berryville. In 2012, Bob Ballinger (R) defeated Robert Berry (D) by a score of 6,706 (56%) to 5,226 (44%) which is a 1,480 vote margin. These voters also went decisively for Mitt Romney, and Bryan King represents them in the State Senate (unopposed in the general election).
In short, we are talking about ruby-red territory here. And these voters in HD-97 also supported the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act (Arkansas Ballot Measure 5) by roughly 52% to 48%.
It’s important to remember that State House boundaries (and most other political subdivisions) do not always coincide with county precinct lines. Due to the nature of these variations, we are constrained to using a “back of the envelope” calculation by comparing the results of HD-97 to those same precinct’s results of ABM-5.
It’s not perfect, but it gives us enough information to declare unequivocally that these voters were supportive of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act in 2012. Elections are complex, and nobody can run as merely being the “pro-medical marijuana” candidate and expect to win. But by the same token, candidates should not be allowed to ignore this issue. No major elected official endorsed ABM-5 in 2012, and most pretended it did not exist. The voters, I suspect, would flock to a candidate (from any party) who would embrace their district’s will.
(click to enlarge)