We’ve known for some time that Mark Pryor is the the most endangered Democrat in the US Senate. Arkansas tossed out Blanche Lincoln in 2010, losing to John Boozman by 21 points, and Arkansas went for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama last year by 24 points. Until today’s University of Arkansas poll, though, no one really knew just how endangered Pryor is. The incumbent Senator has only a 34% approval rating from his constituents, deep into the below-40% danger zone for re-election.
The only bright spot? Boozman isn’t doing much better:
When respondents considered the performance of their elected officials in Washington, D.C., all lawmakers saw drops in approval ratings. John Boozman received his lowest approval ratings yet, 34 percent of likely voters, down from 45 percent last year. Moreover, his disapproval rating jumped to 29 percent of likely voters from 18 percent last year.
Only 34 percent of likely voters approved of Mark Pryor’s performance, down from 53 percent last year. His disapproval ratings were also dramatically higher, with 44 percent of likely voters disapproving of his performance, up from 21 percent last year.
In contrast, both current senators are polling well below the Arkansas Poll numbers for former Sen. Blanche Lincoln during her last year of office. She was voted out of office in 2010. At her lowest in 2009, 43 percent approved and 34 percent disapproved of her performance.
Once again, Arkansans gave low ratings to President Barack Obama, with 29 percent of likely voters approving and 66 percent disapproving of his performance.
Boozman’s drop might give some sense of relief to Pryor, but Boozman has three years before his re-election bid. Pryor has to stand for election next year, in a red state where his party leader polls worse than he does. Combine that with the disastrous ObamaCare rollout and insurance-cost escalations, and that is a recipe for disaster.
Pryor won’t be able to run on the blame game over the shutdown, either:
When it came to the federal shutdown, which began October 1 and ended Oct. 17, Arkansans blamed the president and his party. A full 37 percent of respondents and 39 percent of likely voters blamed President Obama and the Democrats for the shutdown. Only 26 percent of respondents and 27 percent of likely voters blamed the Republicans in Congress.
Even with that, though, Republicans can’t get too comfortable in this race. In a matchup with Tom Cotton, the Republican only gets a 37/36 edge over Pryor among likely voters. The GOP does better in the generic Congressional ballot (38/31) and in the state legislative ballot (41/33). Still, it’s a virtual tie in the 2016 presidential race between Hillary Clinton and a generic Republican, with Hillary getting the edge (42/44). A majority of 59% also back a path to citizenship as part of immigration reform, too, which may be a good indicator of Pryor’s campaign messaging next year, especially if immigration reform stalls.
This result is very bad news for Pryor, but it’s not yet good news for the GOP. Republicans have a lot of work to do in Arkansas.