HOME RUN: New polling showed Mark Pryor ahead of Tom Cotton even before this presidential visit that couldn't have hurt the president in Arkansas

The desperation in the tone of Tom Cotton handlers on social media begins to make sense. Today, from NBC, comes a third poll with a double-
digit lead for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor in his challenge by Republican Tom Cotton.

In Arkansas, with less than six months until Election Day 2014, incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., leads Republican challenger Tom Cotton by 11 points among registered voters, 51 percent to 40 percent. (That finding is largely in line with other polling from that race since April showing Pryor either leading or tied.)

The same poll shows good results for Democratic challengers in Georgia and Kentucky as well. But ….. It is also another poll showing Republican Asa Hutchinson with a solid lead over Mike Ross in the race for governor. Hutchinson enjoys the recent advantage of being in the field with heavy TV ad buys to win a primary, while Ross, with a nominal challenger without money, hasn’t been as visible.


Earlier polls by Opinion Research of Little Rock and the New York Times have given Pryor a 10-point edge. A number of other polls have shown much smaller gaps, but all with at least a marginal edge for Pryor.

This race isn’t over by a long shot. The Kochs, if nothing else, have committed an enormous sum, along with the Club for Growth, to flood Arkansas with ads trashing Pryor.


Do people get it.? Pryor is a mushy centrist (as a huge swath of swing voters are). Tom Cotton is a little odd and extreme to the point of nuttiness (against disaster relief expenditures) in his political views?

NBC addresses the divergent results in Arkansas:


While Pryor leads the Senate general election contest in Arkansas, Republican Asa Hutchinson has a seven-point advantage in the state’s gubernatorial contest over Democrat Mike Ross, 49 percent to 42 percent.

The reason why both Pryor and Hutchinson are ahead in their statewide races: Both men are leading among independents – Pryor has a seven-point edge over Cotton here (48 percent to 41 percent), and Hutchinson has a 15-point advantage (52 percent to 37 percent).

“These are competitive states as far as the general is concerned”

In addition, Pryor (with a 50 percent to 35 percent favorable/unfavorable rating) is viewed in a more positive light than Cotton is (38 percent to 39 percent) among voters.

Pryor also is getting the support of 32 percent of voters who disapprove of President Obama’s job in Arkansas.

Based on his record on things like guns and abortion and more, Ross has the tools to make a play to independent voters.

The poll in Arkansas was done May 4, before President Obama’s visit to Arkansas, a home run for Mark Pryor and almost overwhelmingly positive for a president with extremely low numbers in Arkansas.  Most of Cotton’s campaign to date has been built on tying Pryor to Obama. If anybody was moved in Arkansas by the presidential visit, it would be in the middle range of voters, not utterly committed to either end of the spectrum.

Recent polling shows Arkansas self-identified “independents” trend strongly conservative. I’d guess Democrats better get comfortable with a strong emergence of the Mike Ross that was able to overcome that tendency to great Republican Jay Dickey for Congress way back when.