Just 33 percent of Arkansas voters approve of the job of Democratic senator Mark Pryor, according to a new poll of likely voters from the University of Arkansas. That's Pryor's lowest rating in the annual poll since entering the Senate in 2003, while an all-time high of 41 percent disapprove of his job in the Senate. When whittled down to "very likely voters," Pryor's position worsens; while 34 percent of very likely voters approve, 44 percent of them disapprove.
Pryor is up for reelection next year for a seat the GOP would love to snatch up from the Democrats. While the University of Arkansas poll shows him slightly edging out his Republican challenger, congressman Tom Cotton, among likely voters (34 percent to Cotton's 32 percent), when taking into account "very likely voters" Cotton bests Pryor, 37 percent to 36 percent.
As Josh Kraushaar of National Journal points out, Pryor's poor approval ratings are worse than they were for another Democratic senator from Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln, a year before her reelection campaign in 2010. Back in 2009, the Arkansas poll found Lincoln's approval at 43 percent, with disapproval at 34 percent. Lincoln went on to lose to Republican John Boozman in 2010 by 21 points. (Boozman, it's worth pointing out, as similarly bad ratings in 2013, with 30 percent disapproving and 28 percent approving of his job, his lowest approval since entering the Senate in 2011.)
Here's more from the University of Arkansas's political science department, which found more Arkansans blame President Obama and the Democrats for the government shutdown (during which this poll was conducted) than they do Republicans:
When it came to the federal shutdown, which began October 1 and ended Oct. 17, Arkansans blamed the president and his party. A full 37 percent of respondents and 39 percent of likely voters blamed President Obama and the Democrats for the shutdown. Only 26 percent of respondents and 27 percent of likely voters blamed the Republicans in Congress.