At least one political prognosticator sees trouble on the horizon for Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), who is among the handful of vulnerable red state Democrats seeking re-election next year in an increasingly difficult political climate.
Stu Rothenberg, founder of eponymous publication, The Rothenberg Political Report, no longer views the race between Pryor and Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) as pure tossup. He is now giving Cotton a very slight edge in what is a must-win seat for Republicans.
“While we continue to regard the Arkansas Senate race broadly as a tossup and think that Pryor is doing all of the right things, we are increasingly skeptical that he can localize the Senate contest as much as he needs to in a state where Obama is so unpopular,” wrote Rothenberg at Roll Call.
Rothenberg contends that Arkansas voters can see a difference between President Obama and Pryor, who has sought to distance himself from the White House. That may be a tougher sell than he thinks. Cotton is going to tie Pryor to Obama as much as possible, and it’s not going to be any sort of a stretch to do so.
For example, the Arkansas Democrat voted for Obamacare and continues to support the law, despite its unpopularity in the state. He also voted for several other aspects of President Obama’s agenda, including the wasteful 2009 stimulus bill, burdensome financial regulations in Dodd-Frank, the Internet sales tax, and far-left judicial nominees.
“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,” Rothenberg explained. “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.”
Cotton, who is getting support from outside groups, has a very narrow advantage over Pryor in the polls, according to data provided by Real Clear Politics. A poll released earlier this month by the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, a conservative PAC, found Cotton with a 7-point lead in the race.
That poll also found tepid support for Obamacare, as just 29% of Arkansas voters have a favorable opinion of law. Sentiment against the Obamacare is strong, however, as 62% have an unfavorable view.