Arkansas’ Early Primary Date Could Draw Presidential Candidates’ Attention

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- For the first time in recent history, Arkansas will have its presidential primary voting on March 1 instead of May.

Voters in The Natural State have shown a tendency to vote for Republican candidates in recent elections, which may explain why the state typically does not receive attention during presidential primaries and caucuses, according to Janine Parry, a political science professor at the University of Arkansas. But, the earlier-than-usual primary may have put the state on the map as a candidate stop.

“It could mean the opportunity to see candidates in a way Arkansas has not seen in a while,” Parry said.

According to Parry, the early primary means more candidates will be relying on support to make it through other larger primaries and caucuses.

“The primary field is still so crowded on the Republican side, so people are still trying to get any edge they can,” Parry said. “No one can afford to leave a state on the table.”

However, for some local Democrats, who are more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton, the move may not make sense.

“Personally, I think it was a bad move," Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, said. "We have put the primary right in the middle of potential winter weather, which can depress voter turnout Also, it could make it more difficult for our poll workers to get to the polls.”

Leding believes the change may confuse voters.

“We have been going and voting in primaries in May for years,” he said. “And we want to make sure the people know now they have to go cast their votes in March. This is a presidential year. More people are going to turn out to vote. There is a lot at stake, no matter which side of the aisle you sit on.”

Republican presidential hopefuls Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson have already made stops in Arkansas and Carly Fiorina is scheduled to speak in Springdale in October.