A poll released on Friday by Magellan Strategies BR indicates that Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) may have trouble winning re-election in 2014. According to a summary of the poll, his “campaign has a big hill to climb.”
The poll results indicate that a plurality of Arkansas voters do not believe Pryor has earned the right to serve another term in the United States Senate. “When asked if Pryor had performed his job well enough to deserve another term, only 37% of likely midterm voters supported his reelection… while 47% felt that it is time to give a new person a chance,” the report stated.
John Diez, Jr., a principal at Magellen Strategies BR, said, “In a state that showed Blanche Lincoln the door in 2010, it looks like it might be Pryor’s turn next.” Diez noted that 16 months before the 2010 election in which another Democratic Senator from Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln, was defeated, her “deserves re-election” polling numbers were exactly the same as Pryor’s are 16 months before the 2014 election. “[S]itting on the same 37% where Lincoln finished cannot be good news for the incumbent,” he commented.
On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that Congressman Tom Cotton (R-AR) is expected to announce next week that he will seek the 2014 Republican nomination to challenge Pryor for the Senate seat in the general election. A day earlier, the Washington Post reported, “If there were any doubts that Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is the most vulnerable senator in the country this election cycle, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) appears to have put them to rest.” According to the Post, Cotton’s entry in the race gives “Republicans a top recruit for a race they have been eyeing eagerly.”
Cotton, a Tea Party favorite who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, is likely to target Pryor’s voting record as out of touch with the conservative voters of Arkansas. Senator Pryor is particularly susceptible to that charge, since he voted for several bills that are very unpopular in Arkansas, such as President Obama’s stimulus package in 2009, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in 2010, and the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill in 2013.
Several top political analysts consider Pryor to be one of the most vulnerable incumbent Democratic Senators who are up for re-election in 2014. National Journal’s Hotline noted that Republicans in Arkansas are “emboldened after the party’s takeover of the state Senate for the first time since Reconstruction.” Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Report calls the race a “pure toss-up,” which is not the kind of forecast any incumbent would like to see.