According to a new Arkansas Senate poll, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor trails his Republican challenger, Rep. Tom Cotton, by 7 points among likely voters in Arkansas, 48 percent to 41 percent.
The survey, which was first reported by POLITICO, was conducted Friday and Saturday for the Citizens United Political Victory Fund by Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway of the polling company, Inc./WomanTrend.
Cotton is ahead outside the margin of error, an advantage largely fueled by a wide 21-point lead among independents, and even among women whom favor Republican Tom Cotton by 4 points.
Previous Arkansas Senate poll numbers, the most recent taken during the partial government shutdown and before the failed rollout of Obamacare, found small leads for both candidates within the margin of error.
The focus shifting toward ObamaCare, which Sen. Pryor voted for against the will of his constituents, has done further damage to the already-embattled incumbent Democrat.
In the latest Arkansas Senate poll, 62 percent say they have an unfavorable view of the health care law, including 56 percent who strongly oppose ObamaCare.
“Mark Pryor is synonymous with Obamacare and Obamacare is synonymous with making life worse for the American people,” said David N. Bossie, president of Citizens United. “That’s why Pryor is losing to Cotton in the Arkansas Senate race.”
Pryor deputy campaign manager Erik Dorey pointed to polls conducted for Citizens United by another firm last year that wound up being far off the mark. But Democratic polling company Public Policy Polling, who typically finds larger than normal Democratic advantages, also found senate races in North Carolina and others to be shifting significantly in favor of Republican candidates.
The race has been rated “Leans Republican” on the People’s Pundit Daily interactive Senate Map for months, citing changing demographics and a persistent rightward shift in the state’s politics, which has accelerated under President Obama.
In an email, Dorey gave a prelude to the nuclear strategy the Pryor campaign intends to use, one which avoids the issue of ObamaCare.
“It’s no surprise that Congressman Cotton’s special interest backers have commissioned a bogus poll that wildly misses where we know this race stands,” he emailed. “Mark is ahead, and Arkansans still have a lot to learn about Cotton’s reckless votes to gut Medicare and Social Security, blow up the Farm Bill and end affordable student loans.”
Pryor is considered by People’s Pundit Daily to be the most vulnerable of the Democratic incumbents running for reelection, as well as other analysts.
The poll found Pryor is viewed favorably by 44 percent, most assuredly due to his family’s good name, and unfavorably by 39 percent. The challenge for him, however, is that only one-third of independents view Pryor favorably and 52 percent have a negative opinion.
Cotton, who went to Afghanistan and Iraq in the Army before being elected to the House last year, is still a relatively unknown quantity. He’s viewed favorably by 39 percent and unfavorably by 26 percent of likely voters. But Cotton enjoys the advantage of representing the largest swing district in Arkansas, something that has narrowed any potential path to victory for Pryor.
President Barack Obama won just 37 percent of the vote in the state last year, and according to the poll he’s viewed favorably by just 36 percent.
The poll, conducted by live interviewers, surveyed 400 likely voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percent. The sample was 29 percent self-identifying Republicans, 32 percent Democratic and 35 percent independents.