Lately, talking points aimed at finding an opponent for incumbent Republican Congressman Tim Griffin have emerged.

One case has been made for moving Bill Halter out of the Democratic primary for governor and into a race against Griffin.  Most of this is driven by a desire of some of the Democratic establishment to clear a path for Mike Ross without a difficult primary and also the belief that Halter would fair well against Griffin.  Halter has dismissed this staying focused on the governor’s race and a new internal poll from the Griffin campaign may show this to be a wise decision.

The internal poll was conducted by the Republican polling firm OnMessage on July 9 and 10 with 400 likely voters in the Second District with a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. The party and geographic breakdown of the survey is as follows:

Party: 39% Democrat, 26% Independent, and 34% Republican.

Geographic: 3% Conway County, 13% Faulkner County, 2% Perry County, 54% Pulaski County, 17% Saline County, 3% Van Buren County and 10% White County.

It included 20% cell phones and 80% landlines.

“Arkansas has shifted significantly to the right and even the metropolitan 2nd District shows no sign of resisting the realignment that has been underway since 2009 in the state,” wrote pollster Wes Anderson. “Like 2010 and 2012, the results from our recent second district survey suggest 2014 is shaping up to be another Republican wave election in Arkansas. Add to this trend Congressman Griffin’s tireless work on behalf of the voters of the 2nd and it’s no surprise that he leads all potential Democrat opponents by large margins.”

The poll tested a head-to-head match up between Griffin and Halter as well as Griffin versus Democratic State Rep. John Edwards, who at one time was rumored to have considered a run.  The survey  found the following…

Q: If the election for U.S. Congress were held today and the candidates were (ROTATE NAMES) Tim Griffin, the Republican, and, Bill Halter, the Democrat, for whom would you vote?

51% Tim Griffin

34% Bill Halter

Among Independents:

55% Tim Griffin

20% Bill Halter

Q: If the election for U.S. Congress were held today and the candidates were (ROTATE NAMES) Tim Griffin, the Republican, and, John Edwards, the Democrat, for whom would you vote?

55% Tim Griffin

26% John Edwards

Among Independents:

54% Tim Griffin

15% John Edwards

The poll also found that 54% approve of the job Griffin is doing in Congress with only 28% disapproving.  Also not surprisingly, President Obama remains unpopular with 56% disapproving of his job performance and 58% still in opposition to ObamaCare.  Issues were also tested in the poll but these questions were asked after the head-to-head questions according to the pollster.

As with all internal polls from either side, they should be taken with a grain of salt.  My experience is that they are usually fairly accurate; however, only the polls that favor the candidate are leaked.  Rarely does a candidate leak a poll showing them getting trounced.

These numbers certainly bode well for Griffin in his re-election for third term and also seem to indicate that favorable conditions still exist for Republicans up and down the 2014 ballot.

UPDATE – More from this poll shows good news for Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson who is ahead of Mike Ross in the Second District as well.  This is a positive sign for Hutchinson as the Second District is traditionally one of the strongest areas for Democrats.  Hutchinson would probably be strongest in the Third, where he once served in Congress, and Ross should have more strength in the Fourth.  A lead in the Second is certainly a sign of overall strength. Here are the results…

Q: If the election for governor were held today and the candidates were Asa Hutchinson, the Republican, and, Mike Ross, the Democrat, for whom would you vote?

45.0 Hutchinson

39.3 Ross

15.8 undecided

Q: Thinking about the job Barack Obama is doing as President of the United States, would you say you approve or disapprove of the job he has done as President?

42.5 Approve

56.0 Disapprove

UPDATE II – You should read some Democratic spin from Trey Baldwin at Natural State Report blog.  I will add a couple notes. Trey takes issue with the poll based primarily on the pollsters GOP leanings and the swing from the February Talk Business poll.  In my opinion, the poll appears to me to be in line with other polls and is as good as any other internal poll.  As for the change from February, the TB poll showed Hutchinson with a was five point statewide lead with 43% preferring him over Ross with 38% but the crosstabs showed Hutchinson with 37.4% and Ross with 43.0% in AR2. This swing is notable but I don’t think it means the poll is not valid.  If the Ross folks have something different, they should roll it out.

One point Trey also makes is the timing of the leak. This is a valid point but the poll was conducted last week by Griffin’s people not Hutchinson’s. That said obviously Ross reported raising a ton of money today.  Ross’s cash on hand is $1,696,125 while Hutchinson’s is $649,169.  Fair to say that Asa needs to catch up in the fundraising department while Ross has some work to do in the polls.

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Jason Tolbert is the moderator for his opinion blog, The Tolbert Report. He can be reached by e-mail at Jason@TolbertReport.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TolbertReport.

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