Running scared 

Conventional wisdom says Republicans will prevail — but is it that simple?

A political advertisement streams into homes all across the fourth district. The typical tropes and worn-out images we've come to expect from the minds of political consultants and handlers are all there. We see a candidate talking to veterans, standing in a factory surrounded by blue-collar workers and posing with the kids on the front porch. A camera shot pans a pastoral stretch of a small Arkansas town. The candidate in question, we're told, has never voted to increase his pay, is endorsed by the NRA, will stand up for "Arkansas values" and voted against "Pelosi's health care overhaul." As if saying it wasn't enough, that last phrase is emblazoned across the bottom of the screen for added effect.

But this is no Republican advertisement. It's for Rep. Mike Ross, a conservative Democrat running for re-election in the fourth district against Republican Beth Anne Rankin. It's classic Ross, complete with Republican talking points and all. In an election cycle in which literally every candidate is running against Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, or in some cases exaggerated or demonized versions of them, it's not surprising that this message would pop up in a Republican ad. The fact that it cropped up in a Democratic campaign is a testament to how frustrated voters, especially in Arkansas, have become with the administration.

For the Republicans, running against Obama could prove to be gold. The president is wildly unpopular in Arkansas and voter anger, whether valid or wholly misplaced, is driving this election cycle. It's not just at the top. The anti-Obama message has entered into numerous statewide and even legislative races. Mark Darr, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, proudly proclaims in his television ads that he will "fight the Obama agenda," even though his election would provide him with essentially no opportunity to do so.

But Republicans see Obama as low-hanging fruit and are ready to capitalize on voter resentment. Conservative commentator and talk show host Bill Vickery said voters are angry over two issues: health care and what they see as too much government.

"Even Democrats are trying to distance themselves from the president," Vickery said. "He has become toxic for Democrats in not just the South, but in swing areas around the country. That can hold true whether it's Ohio or Arkansas. I think the push on health care has a lot to do with it. Also, at a point in time when you see the economy is struggling and you have a president that is increasing the size of government, and doesn't provide efficiency, then that's why you see the backlash that you see."

Historically, the president's party has not fared well in mid-term elections and this year, if the pundits are right, history will likely repeat itself. Television and newspapers are spreading the message: A Republican tide is sweeping the nation. If you believe pollsters, the G.O.P. will likely take control of the House of Representatives. Here in Arkansas, a very real possibility exists that the state's delegation will shift from five Democrats and one Republican to two Ds and four Rs. (Elsewhere, however, recent polls show Democrats making some advances in key Senate races, putting a damper on some of the doomsday scenarios of a Republican takeover in that chamber.)

U.S. Rep. John Boozman has shown a consistent and steady lead over Sen. Blanche Lincoln. In the first district, recent numbers show Republican Rick Crawford ahead of Chad Causey, but not by much. Tim Griffin leads Joyce Elliott by 15 in the second district. In the third district, Republican Steve Womack leads Democrat David Whitaker. Only in the fourth district does a Democrat — Ross — have a sizeable edge.


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Gerard Matthews

Readers also liked…

  • Casting out demons: why Justin Harris got rid of kids he applied pressure to adopt

    Rep. Justin Harris blames DHS for the fallout related to his adoption of three young girls, but sources familiar with the situation contradict his story and paint a troubling picture of the adoption process and the girls' time in the Harris household.
    • Mar 12, 2015
  • A child left unprotected

    State Rep. Justin Harris and his wife adopted a young girl through the state Department of Human Services. How did she, six months later, end up in the care of a man who sexually abused her?
    • Mar 5, 2015
  • Best of Arkansas bars and booze 2015

    Times readers pick the state's best bars and beers.
    • Oct 15, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Cover Stories

Visit Arkansas

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments


© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation