What do Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin, Steve Womack, John Boozman and Mark Pryor all have in common, besides the most obvious?

They all voted for the first Farm Bill this year and for lower student loan rates.

Who was the only member of Arkansas’s delegation to vote against these two bills? That would be Congressman Tom Cotton.

Cotton likely makes his official U.S. Senate race announcement tomorrow, but he’s already stumbling.

Cotton’s vote on the original Farm Bill alienated many in Arkansas’s agricultural industry who wanted the bill passed.

Last week, Cotton was one of only six Republic Congressman who voted against a bill that would lower loan rates for college students. Cotton received national press for this vote once it was revealed he received government student loans to go Harvard, but then voted against student loans for everybody else. Cotton looked like a hypocrite.

Pryor recently used both of those votes against Cotton in the past week, garnering extensive press coverage.

Pryor’s attack on Cotton over the student loan issue scored a front-page story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Cotton was on the defensive, especially when the other Arkansas Republic Congressmen praised the very bill Cotton voted against.

Cotton may attempt to claim he doesn’t vote lock-step with this party, but it looks more like he’s just out of step with Arkansas.

New Statewide Poll
A new poll came out today that had Mark Pryor leading Tom Cotton by eight points. Pryor garnered 43% to Cotton’s 35%.

The poll was conducted by Clark Research and commissioned by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal union (AFSME).

The total favorable and unfavorable ratings for Pryor and Cotton were:

Mark Pryor 47/34
Tom Cotton 28/22

You can review the poll here.

A few points about this poll:

First, all polls publicly released by advocacy or partisan organizations should be taken with a grain of salt and this AFSME poll is no different.

Second, if this poll is accurate, the good news for Pryor is that in a state where 5 of the 6 Congressional members are Republicans, he’s currently leading against an incumbent Congressman. For perspective, polls taken about this time four years ago had Blanche Lincoln losing badly to then-unknown Republican challengers.

Third, if this poll is accurate, the bad news for Pryor is that he is not closer to the magic 50% mark incumbents would like to be at this point. Pryor has a fight on his hands and no one can deny that this race is a toss-up.

But Cotton’s stumbles have allowed Mark Pryor to begin to define the freshman Congressman as being out of step with Arkansas.

Frankly, Cotton is making Mark Pryor’s re-election easier with his out-of-touch voting record.

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Michael Cook
Michael Cook is the moderator for his opinion blog, Cook's Outlook. He can be reached by e-mail at Michael@CooksOutlook.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mcookAR or on Facebook: facebook.com/CooksOutlook.