LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Beebe has little competition for the title of most popular elected Democrat in Arkansas, and his party is trying to get as much mileage out of his popularity as it can — but whether the esteem voters have for Beebe will rub off on other Democrats this fall is uncertain, even to Beebe.

The governor told the Arkansas News Bureau last week he did not know how much impact he would have on the November election.

“You know, you never know,” he said. “All I can do is the best I can.”

Arkansas Democrats suffered through a bruising 2010 election cycle, losing their hold on all but two seats in the state’s congressional delegation, three constitutional offices and enough legislative seats to reduce their traditionally strong majorities in the House and Senate to narrow margins.

Through it all, the state Democratic Party has sung a constant refrain: Look at Mike Beebe.

“Gov. Beebe won every county in the state — 75 counties (in his 2010 re-election bid),” State Democratic Party Chairman Will Bond told the Political Animals Club in Little Rock in April, making the case that Arkansans have not soured on Democrats despite the 2010 election results in other races.

The state Democratic Party has also appeared to distance itself from President Obama and the national Democratic Party. After Obama scored a win on his signature policy issue with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that the federal health care reform law is constitutional, the state party downplayed the importance of the decision.

“Whenever you look at (Arkansas) Democrats and the issues that they are focused on, their No. 1 priority remains creating jobs and improving education in order to continue to grow our economy,” state Democratic Party spokeswoman Candace Martin said at the time.

The state party also announced recently that for its annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Aug. 18 it would stick close to home with its choice of featured speaker: Beebe. In past years the job typically has gone to Democrats prominent on the national political scene, such as Democratic political consultant James Carville and former, Clinton presidential aide Paul Begala and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

Beebe is prevented by term limits from seeking a third term in 2014. He will not be on the November ballot, but Obama, who lost to John McCain by 20 points in Arkansas in 2008 and has received consistently low approval ratings in the state ever since, will be.

Democratic officials clearly hope Beebe’s name will be on voter’s minds, if not on the ballot.

“Our candidates … are qualified, responsible, respected people who are willing to work with Gov. Beebe to continue the progress that he’s made,” Bond said last month in an interview about Democrats’ chances in November.

Beebe, who served in the state Senate for 20 years and as attorney general for four years before becoming governor, told the Arkansas News Bureau he believes voters have favored him because they are familiar with him.

“I am who I am and the people know me,” he said. “I tell them how I feel and I tell them what I think.”

Beebe said that whichever party may be in favor at the moment, he believes candidates can succeed by showing their individuality.

“Arkansans will default to the R or to the D depending on what’s going on, depending on the mood of the people, if they don’t know the candidate well enough to feel like they’re going to vote for or against the candidate,” he said.

“What I’ve tried to tell the candidates is, ‘You’ve got to get out and let the people know you to the point that they feel comfortable with you, so they’ll either vote for you or against you based on who you are, not whatever the flavor of the month happens to be.’”

Beebe, 65, has said he does not intend to run for any other office. Asked what his role would be in the party’s future after he leaves office, he said, “I don’t know that I’ll have one. I’m going to go enjoy some time with (first lady) Ginger and relax a little bit.”

The governor said he might be willing to campaign for Democrats, depending on who asks and what else he is doing at the time.

“But that’s two and a half years off. We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.