The new Talk Business poll shows that Arkansas Democrats on the legislative level face some challenges, but as always it comes down to the actual candidates.
Q: In next year’s elections, do you plan to vote for a Republican candidate for your state legislator, a Democratic candidate for your state legislator, a third party candidate, or are you undecided?
6% Third party candidate
31% Don’t know
On the statewide level, a generic Republican candidate leads a generic Democratic candidate by six points, However, note that 31% of voters are still undecided and thus up for grabs.
On the Congressional level, the numbers tighten up slightly, excluding the 3rd Congressional District that is. In the 1st & 2nd CD, the generic Republican candidate leads by four points and in the 3rd CD, the Republicans lead by a little less than 18 points. In the 4th CD, the generic Democratic candidate leads by a touch less than 2 points.
On the statewide level, generic Democratic candidates have a problem with Independent voters with the Republicans leading by almost 18 points.
The poll doesn’t paint a pretty picture for a generic Democratic legislative candidate, but it’s important to remember the word "generic."
The fight for control for both houses of the General Assembly comes down to the candidates. To win, Democrats must recruit quality candidates and then fully support their campaigns. Candidates with an effective message and strong ties to their district can overcome these challenges of a generic Democrat.
Last month, I wrote a post about how in 2010 Arkansas Democrats failed miserably to support legislative candidates and I heard from quite a few Democrats who agreed with my assessment.
Organizationally, Arkansas Democrats must learn from their 2010 failures and dramatically improve their game for 2012.
Two prominent Arkansas Democrats must get engaged for 2012 – Governor Mike Beebe and Senator Mark Pryor.
Governor Beebe has been a master of the legislative process, usually getting 90% of everything he wants from the Democratically-controlled Legislature. If Republicans win control of one or both Houses of the General Assembly, during his last lame-duck session in 2013 Beebe will likely have little influence over a Republican majority putting his legacy as Governor in jeopardy. Republicans controlling both Houses could vote to repeal previous Beebe-sponsored legislation and easily override Beebe’s veto since it only takes a majority of the Legislature to do so.
Governor Beebe is still extremely popular and Democrats need his firepower both as a fundraiser and as a campaigner. I’m told by knowledgeable sources that Beebe plans to heavily engage in 2012 legislative races and that is good news for Arkansas Democrats.
Senator Mark Pryor must engage and invest heavily in Arkansas Democrats’ organizational efforts because he’ll have a fight on his hands in 2014 if he seeks re-election. Senator Pryor has invested financially in the past toward Arkansas Democrats’ organizational efforts, but frankly could do much more. By heavily investing in Arkansas Democrats in 2012, it will pay dividends in 2014 when he seeks re-election.
Moreover, the potential Democratic candidates for Governor must also engage and support Democratic legislative candidates. They have some skin in the game too and Arkansas Democrats will notice which candidates are fighting for legislative candidates and which ones are sitting on the sidelines.
The election is still more than a year away and our latest poll is just a snapshot in time. These numbers will likely change one way or another by next fall.
Arkansas Democrats have a fight on their hands to retain control of the Legislature and they must recruit good candidates and fully support them to retain control of the State Legislature.