The Arkansas Senate race continues to be close and hard-fought. Polling shows the race extremely competitive, and both sides have already spent heavily. Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor has spent almost $900,000 on his re-election bid, while Republican challenger Tom Cotton’s campaign has spent more than $300,000. Outside groups have also been heavily involved.
Pryor has run early ads attacking Cotton’s ambition and selected House votes, as well as TV spots that paint the senator’s values in a positive light to crucial Arkansas voters. Republicans have generally tried to demonize Pryor, but Cotton went up recently with a positive, introductory ad featuring the challenger’s mother.
Each side has boosted the other’s negatives, but Democrats have reason to hope that their initial attempts to define the challenger will make it more difficult for him to make headway against Pryor.
Voters in the state currently are able to make the distinction between President Barack Obama’s record and Pryor’s, and the president’s recent job approval dip didn’t seem to hurt him in Arkansas, where he had hit rock bottom earlier. That’s good news for Democrats who hope that in November voters don’t see Pryor as connected at the hip with the president.
But while Pryor’s campaign is off to a good start and seems to have benefited from a strong, aggressive early effort, the last few months have not been kind to Democrats nationally.
The crew at Rothenberg doesn’t think 2014 will look as bad as 2010 did for Demcorats, but they’re moving Arkansas Senate into a closer contest:
We now believe that there is a better than even chance that as November approaches Arkansas voters will want to make a statement about the president’s performance, and the only way they will be able to do that is by their vote in the Senate race. Unless Pryor can drive Cotton’s negatives through the roof, and prevent his own from going there as well, it will be difficult for the senator to survive, no matter how good a race he runs.
Pryor’s up against a man with Ivy League degrees, a head on his shoulders, and an honorable wartime service record, in the year of Obamacare’s failure, with 70-something percent of Americans deeming big government the biggest threat to the nation. If Republicans can’t win this seat…I don’t even know what becomes of them.
Kay Hagan, commence to worrying.