Today, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) released a new poll showing Mark Pryor leading Tom Cotton. This is the third poll in a row showing the incumbent leading his freshman challenger.
The poll, conducted by Anzalone Lizst Grove Research, shows Mark Pryor leading Tom Cotton 48% to 45%. The poll sampled 600 people via live interviews.
I’m sure you already know what I’ll write next: take all polls released by partisan organizations with a grain of salt.
The poll showed only 7% of voters were undecided. The DSCC polling memo notes that among the 7% undecided they are disproportionately white women over 65 or unmarried white women.
This is a group where Pryor is leading Cotton and the freshman Congressman is making it too easy for the incumbent to expand his lead.
Last week two polls were publicly released also showing U.S. Senator Mark Pryor leading Congressman Tom Cotton. This latest poll shows a clear trend line – Mark Pryor is defying conventional wisdom and leading in a tough political environment for Democrats.
Which leads to my next key point: Tom Cotton is the most overrated U.S. Senate candidate in the country. This latest round of polling has exposed Cotton’s weakness.
Consider the political battleground. Arkansas is a southern state where Republicans hold 5 out of 6 Congressional seats, where President Obama has a 65% job disapproval rating, Obamacare is very unpopular and the economy here is still a bit too slow. To say nothing of millions of dollars of attack ads already spent against Mark Pryor. This shouldn’t even be a tight race, it should be 2010 Senator Lincoln all over again.
Yet the highest Tom Cotton can get in any poll is 45%. If that doesn’t prove Cotton is a weak-as-water Senate candidate, then you’re just not paying attention. And, more importantly, Mark Pryor is a much stronger campaigner and candidate than is given credit by some pundits.
Whenever a campaign is flailing and behind in the polls, they always challenge their opponent to a series of debates. We’ve all seen it dozens of times before. Coincidentally, yesterday, on Palm Sunday, Cotton held a press conference challenging Mark Pryor to five “Lincoln-Douglas” debates.
Frankly the debate ploy, unveiled at a hastily called press conference, reeks of political desperation. Cotton’s campaign desperately needs to shake this race up and they hope the “debate over debates” will help.
Mark Pryor will debate Cotton at some point, but it likely won’t be five debates, and certainly not the so-called Lincoln-Douglas style debates. But we’ll have to endure months of whining from Cotton’s camp about how Pryor won’t agree to their political ploy.
Do you know how much voters care about the cliche storyline of a debate over the debates between campaigns? Zip. Nada. Zero. It’s just political process noise that has nothing to with their lives. But now Cotton’s campaign has created a storyline they must continue pushing even though voters don’t care how the story ends.
Yet with all of this positive polling for Mark Pryor, this race it still a complete toss-up. Pryor is still below the 50% polling mark incumbents would like to see at this point in the race and there’s a long way to go until November. It would not surprise me to see the leads in the polls flip back-and-forth a few times in the polls before November.
This U.S. Senate race is likely to remain very close all the way until Election Day.