Republican Cong. Tom Cotton has stretched his lead against Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, according to a new poll released by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College.
Q. In the race for U.S. Senate, the candidates are Democrat Senator Mark Pryor, Republican Congressman Tom Cotton, Libertarian Nathan LaFrance, and Green Party Candidate Mark Swaney. If the election for U.S. Senate were today, which candidate would you support?
40.5% Democrat Senator Mark Pryor
49% Republican Congressman Tom Cotton
2.5% Libertarian Nathan LaFrance
2% Green candidate Mark Swaney
In a late July TB&P-Hendrix poll, Cotton held a two-point lead over Pryor 44-42%.
The new polling of 2,075 likely Arkansas voters was conducted on Wednesday, Oct. 15 and Thursday, Oct. 16 after two U.S. Senate debates last week. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.2% and includes live cell phone calls (16%) and automated landline respondents.
The statewide results are a compilation of four different Congressional District level surveys completed from four different Congressional District level samples. This combination not only offers a “super-sized” poll for statewide results, but allows for large enough sample sizes at the Congressional District level to draw detailed observations. More on the methodology is discussed at the bottom of this post.
“As early voting begins and candidates begin their homestretch run, Cong. Cotton is poised to knock off Sen. Pryor barring any major disasters,” said Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock.
“I do think this race tightens, however, as Democrats are pushing for a massive get-out-the-vote effort among newly registered and dormant voters. How big that impact will be is anyone’s guess. It’s complicated and nearly impossible to accurately poll that universe,” Brock said.
Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, helped analyze the survey results in the U.S. Senate race.
Congressman Tom Cotton has enlarged his lead in our survey from his two-point margin in our July poll, the last time we checked in on the Senate race.
Cotton leads in three of the state’s four congressional districts. He holds healthy majorities in both the First and Third Congressional Districts and has a plurality lead (49%-42%) in the Fourth Congressional District he has represented over the past two years. Pryor’s sole lead is in central Arkansas’s Second Congressional District where he holds a 48%-43% advantage.
As has been shown in previous surveys, both candidates have locked up support among their fellow partisans. In this survey, Cotton has a strong advantage among the state’s voters who term themselves Independents (although surveys we have completed in the past suggests that most of them now actually see themselves as closer to the Republican Party). Among this crucial group, Cotton leads 59%-28%.
In terms of key demographics, a gender gap persists in the race but Pryor now trails among both men and women. The gap with women is small but the gap with male voters is 55%-37%. Among the youngest group of voters, the candidates are even, but Cotton leads among all other groups by age. Most importantly, older Arkansans (a group that has shown some malleability in the race across the months) now goes to Cotton by a 51%-42% margin.
Moving into early voting, our survey says advantage Cotton. For Pryor to close the gap, a monstrous and effectively targeted turnout operation and the entrance of large numbers of new registrants into the fold are both essential.
Democrats are anticipating an electorate that includes more persons of color and more younger voters than does our model (one that is explicitly based on 2010 turnout patterns). Therefore, we tested this theory on our sample.
We re-weighted the sample to reduce the percentage of white voters to 78 percent of the electorate and to increase the percentage of voters under the age of 44 to 34 percent of the electorate. In addition, because we are seeing different attitudes in this race between cell phone users and land line respondents (partly because of the age and race factors), we also weighted the sample for cell phone users to 30 percent of the electorate.
With all these shifts more in line with Democratic turnout models, Cotton still held a 7-point advantage (48%-41%).
Editor’s note: Dr. Barth has been a financial contributor to the Pryor campaign.
This survey was conducted by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College on Wednesday and Thursday, October 15 and 16, 2014. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-2.2%, was completed using IVR survey technology and live cell phone respondents among 2,075 frequent voters in Arkansas. Only respondents who positively identified that they planned to vote in the November 4th general election were allowed to complete the survey.
Approximately 16% of the voters in our sample were contacted via cell phone with live callers. This is in response to the increased reliance by voters on cell phones. Additionally, we applied generally standard weighting to the poll results based on age, gender, race and Congressional Districts.
Age (weighted according to 2010 statewide vote)
8% Under the age of 30
19% Between the ages of 30 and 44
41% Between the ages of 45 and 64
32% 65 or older
Ethnicity (weighted according to 2010 statewide vote)
11% African American
1% Asian American
83% Caucasian or White
Party Identification (unweighted)
Gender (weighted according to 2010 statewide vote)
Congressional Districts (weighted according to 2010 population)
All media outlets are welcome to reprint, reproduce, or rebroadcast information from this poll with proper attribution to Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College.