Republican congressman Tom Cotton holds a small, two-point lead in a new CNN poll of his race against sitting Democratic senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas. The poll of likely voters found 49 percent support Cotton and 47 percent support Pryor. Here's more from CNN:
While Pryor holds an 8-point advantage over Cotton with likely women voters overall, Cotton is favored by likely voters among white women by 11 points. Losing a key constituency to an opponent by such a large margin could be devastating.
"The bad news is that he seems to have opened up a new way to lose to Republicans by losing badly with white women," said a Democratic operative who knows Pryor but is not working on his race. "The good news is that is a segment of the electorate that tends to break Democratic, and he has time to close that gap. If he does, he wins."
Pryor has the lead among self-described moderates (61 percent), women overall (51 percent), and those making less than $50,000 a year (52 percent), while Cotton leads independents (56 percent), white women (53 percent), and men overall (54 percent).
According to the poll, 63 percent disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing as president. Nearly a quarter of likely voters say they may change their mind about the race.
Cotton has led Pryor—though not by more than a few points—in seven of the last eight polls of the race. The Real Clear Politics poll average gives the Republican just a 1.7-point lead, suggesting the race remains tight.
In a recent issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Fred Barnes reported from Arkansas on the negative attacks coming from the Pryor campaign and national Democrats. Here's an excerpt:
"Tom Cotton voted against preparing America for pandemics like Ebola,” a TV ad in Arkansas declared last week. The ad came from Democrat Mark Pryor, who is running for reelection to the Senate. Cotton, a House member, is his Republican opponent in the November 4 election. The ad failed to mention that after voting against an early version of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act, Cotton voted forthe bill once a provision he objected to was removed.
Last spring, Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s PAC said in an ad: “Before Congress, Cotton got paid handsomely working for insurance companies.” The claim was untrue, as was the ad’s insistence that Cotton “wants to end Medicare’s guarantee, giving billions in profits to insurance companies.” The Washington Post’s fact checker gave the ad “four Pinocchios,” calling it “as phony as a three-dollar bill.”
In June, a 30-second ad by the Arkansas Democratic party said Cotton opposes disaster relief. It featured a scene of damage caused by tornadoes in Arkansas on April 27, insinuating that Cotton was against aiding the victims. He wasn’t. His votes were against the pork-laden bills after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012.
In August, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee aired a TV spot accusing Cotton of having voted against federal funding for Arkansas Children’s Hospital. But Cotton’s opposition to the legislation didn’t cost the hospital any funding. On the contrary, he voted in favor of funding the two agencies that do aid the hospital.
By now, you should have gotten the drift: Democrats are going to extreme lengths to protect Pryor and demonize Cotton, his Republican challenger. And they’re taking nearly as combative an approach to defend Democratic incumbents in three other red states—North Carolina, Louisiana, and Alaska.
But there’s a special intensity to the attacks on Cotton, along with a glaring disregard for the truth. This is probably because Pryor, 51, has been viewed as the most vulnerable of the four incumbents.
Read the whole thing here.