Embattled incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln has fought for her political survival for more than a year-and-a-half.
During that time, she’s weathered attacks from the left and the right on her positions on card check, cap-and-trade, and the high-profile health care debate. She’s faced a barrage of criticism from a field of Republican candidates hell-bent on defeating her. Lincoln was pounded in a Democratic primary and barely survived a run-off with Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.
In what may be her last TV ad of the campaign season and without mentioning her GOP opponent John Boozman, Lincoln makes a direct appeal to voters asking for a final chance.
Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, says that Lincoln’s "closing statement" is unusual.
"What is different is not the tone of this ad, but the content. Candidates tend to want to emphasize the momentum that they have since the common view is that voters want to support a ‘winner,’ but Lincoln goes the opposite direction stating that most everyone thinks she’s going to lose. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this in an Arkansas ad," said Barth.
Barth notes that Lincoln emphasizes her standing up to a variety of special interests, particularly the labor unions that spent millions against her in the Democratic primary.
"In her comments in recent days, she’s also been noting that Bill Halter’s challenge to her was what made her re-election difficult. She fails to mention the millions of dollars spent during 2009 attacking her by groups from the right concerned about her stances on health care, ‘card check,’ and ‘cap and trade.’ It’s really those attacks in 2009 that put her in a position that her approval ratings were incredibly low and Halter felt that a primary challenge could be successful," said Barth.
He contends that an earlier jump-start to counter those negative messages could have helped her political fortunes.
"The failure of the Lincoln campaign to spend some of the millions of dollars she had in the bank during 2009 to defend her against these charges created the vulnerability that has led to her present deeply disadvantaged position," Barth suggested.