Thursday, October 16, 2014

US Senate Races: Pryor v. Cotton

In 2010, Democratic US Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas ran against an anti-Democrat, pro-Tea Party wave.

Blanche Lincoln

She voted for Obamacare, one of the most divisive, controversial, and now unpopular and dysfunctional pieces of legislation. Despite small attempts to push away

She was history before she hit the airwaves campaigning. One episode of "This Week", Washington Post Columnist George Will mocked her ad campaigns for their "cognitive dissonance", as though she was a staunch opponent of President Obama's agenda in Washington.

 Lincoln ended up losing by double digits to John Boozman.

Four years later, and another Arkansas Democrat, Mark Pryor, is running for reelection.

Mark Pryor, Official Portrait, 112th Congress (2011) 1.jpg
Mark Pryor
Another Democratic incumbent underdog running away from his liberal President and party yet staying under the label.

Pryor's Republican opponent, Congressman Tom Cotton, has managed to stay a few points ahead of the US Senator, but has not maintained as strong an edge over Pryor as Boozman had achieved against Lincoln.

What happened? Why the difference?

Like Lincoln, Pryor is a well-established political dynasty in Arkansas politics.

Unlike Lincoln, Pryor had four years from the passage of Obamacare to prepare for a hard fight from the right. He marshaled together a sizeable warchest, knowing that an off-Presidential year election would be harder for him. Unlike incumbents in 2010 and 2012 (plus the passage of Citizens United), Pryor spent more time getting more money, and working his state as best as he could.

Tom Cotton
Tom Cotton is a strong contender, but Pryor has touted his constituent services, plus his strong support for the Second Amendment. Therefore, he has been able to hang in strong, even though his polling shows Pryor to be the underdog.

Real Clear Politics lists Cotton maintaining a 3.6% poll average ahead of Pryor, and those numbers have not budged.

Other races in Arkansas may tilt the outcomes toward Cotton, as well.

Asa Hutchisnson
Former Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson is making another run for statewide office, and has polled consistently six points ahead of his Democratic opponent Mike Ross, even though the previous governor was Democratic. Following his recent appearance on network television representing the NRA after the Newtown, Connecticut gun massacre, Hutchinson positioned himself as a sober and reliable conservative voice, which will resonate well with Arkansas voters. Hutchinson's surging success stands out also because the state has not elected a Republican Governor since 1996: Mike Huckabee took office in the middle of a term, after the incumbent stepped following convictions in the Whitewater Scandal.

What about the Congressional races? Republicans currently represent all four Congressional districts, but District Three is looking slightly more like a toss-up, following a bitter primary. Still, even though some of the Republican candidates have not passed  50%, they are well ahead of their Democratic challengers and will most likely keep their seats.

The Daily Kos had nothing but grim news for all Arkansas Democrats:

Things look very bad for Arkansas Democrats Mark Pryor and Mike Ross in PPP's new release:

PPP takes a look at the Natural State, and they do not find good news for Democrats in either of this year's contests. In the Senate race, Republican Tom Cotton leads Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor 43-38, up three points from early August. That's not a good spread for Pryor but what's really terrifying is his approval rating. Pryor posts a dire 36-51 job approval, while Cotton has a 40-41 favorable rating. Unless this poll is really wrong or unless Cotton gets really unpopular really fast, it's hard to see Pryor winning here with these kinds of numbers.

Blue Nation Review  blogger Jesse Berney offered an upbeat Democratic assessment for 2014. Berney suggested that Democrats would unseat US Senate Minority Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and take the open seat in Georgia, as well as hold Alaska. Yet even with these rosy projections, the website conceded the following about Pryor:

Tom Cotton is your standard Tea Party congressman. He wants to repeal Obamacare. He’s a reliable vote for any restriction on a woman’s right to choose. Unfortunately, he’s probably also the next U.S. Senator from Arkansas.
Mark Pryor has never inspired enthusiasm from the base of the Democratic party. He’s voted with Republicans in key moments. He opposes an increase in the federal minimum wage. That means he’s going to have trouble generating the same enthusiasm as Republicans who are eager to win a seat back.
Pryor will lose this one.
This post came up three weeks ago. Since then, the Alaska race now leans comfortably toward Dan Sullivan and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has abandoned Kentucky.
With rosy projections already going from bad to worse, Pryor is definitely retiring this year.

Arkansas was one of the last Dixie-crat, conservative Southern Democratic strongholds, yet has now trended Republican. Further Congressional and gubernatorial wins for Republicans in Arkansas will help carry Tom Cotton to the US Senate this November.

No comments:

Post a Comment