Results from a new internal poll obtained by Cook’s Outlook shows Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson in a dead heat in the race to become Arkansas’s next governor.

Q: As you may know, Gov. Mike Beebe is term limited and cannot run for re-election in 2014. If the November 2014 election for governor was held today, and the candidates were — Mike Ross, a Democrat, and Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, for whom would you vote?

Asa Hutchinson – 46%
Mike Ross – 44%

The results are from an internal poll conducted by Ross’s campaign and released to key supporters today.  I’ve worked with Ross’s polling firm, Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, in previous campaigns and I trust their data, but one should view such polls released to the media through a questioning prism. We were not provided access to the entire poll, which should also be taken into consideration.

The poll was conducted November 14-21, 2013 using live callers to obtain results from 800 likely voters. The margin of error is 3.5%.

Other notable tidbits from the poll:

Asa Hutchinson leads Mike Ross in statewide name recognition, 76% to 60%, which likely accounts for why Hutchinson leads at this point. Hutchinson has run three times for statewide office, while Ross has only run at the Congressional level.

However, among voters who recognize both candidates, the results change dramatically. Among this group of voters, Ross leads Hutchinson by nine points, 51% to 42%.

I was not given data on how the candidates fared among independent voters, nor numbers breaking out how they did in each Congressional District.

Ross’s campaign did indicate the Democrat currently enjoys 75% support among African-American voters. If Ross is able to get those numbers up to the 90% support level that Mike Beebe received in 2010, then the race becomes an actual tie in the poll.

With these latest poll results, Asa Hutchinson can still brag he’s led in every public poll, but it’s not much to brag on since this streak likely ends when television ads begin sometime next year.

Mike Ross still has room to grow his support since only 60% of likely voters know him at this point. If the trend line of Ross leading Hutchinson among voters who know both candidates continues, then Hutchinson faces serious trouble as Ross becomes better known.

Ross’s gargantuan fundraising advantage will help him improve his numbers and could keep Hutchinson’s numbers from rising. Ross’s poll has Hutchinson at 46%, which ironically is the highest percentage he ever received in any of his three previous unsuccessful attempts for statewide office.

The governor’s race is a dead heat, but Hutchinson’s pitiful fundraising efforts may lead to doom for his fourth try to statewide office.

Ross has the funds to clearly define himself and his opponent before a statewide audience while, if the trend continues, Hutchinson will have barely enough money to fight a competitive race.

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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.