Is Arkansas a land of opportunity for Democrats? | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Is Arkansas a land of opportunity for Democrats?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 1:26 PM

DEMOCRATS' BEST: Mike Ross is a national writer's pick for leading chance of a big political win for Democrats in 2014.
  • DEMOCRATS' BEST: Mike Ross is a national writer's pick for leading chance of a big political win for Democrats in 2014.
Stuart Rothenberg poses the question above in an article for Roll Call.

Can Democrats stop their Southern bleeding here? Or will Republicans continue to solidify their hold on the South?

Rothenberg identifies and briefly analyzes four races — U.S. Senate (Pryor v. Cotton); governor (Ross v. Hutchinson) and the two open seats for Congress, Districts 2 and 4, where Patrick Henry Hays and James Lee Witt are hopeful Democratic candidates against currently contested Republican fields.

Rothenberg is skeptical of a Democratic sweep.

While Democrats have recruited some credible hopefuls and have opportunities in the state, it’s hard to believe that they have much of a chance of sweeping four competitive contests. This is a state where Barack Obama drew less than 37 percent of the vote in 2012 and just under 39 percent of the vote four years earlier. So where are their best opportunities?

The gubernatorial race would appear to be the Democrats’ best chance.

Ross did have a reputation as a moderate Democrat during his years on Capitol Hill, and he spent more than a decade representing one quarter of the state in Congress. More importantly, he is running for a state office, not a federal one, and since voters evaluate candidates differently when they are seeking non-federal office, Ross would seem to have the best chance of the bunch.

After Ross probably comes Pryor. Senate candidates generally get more attention and spend more money than House hopefuls, and that means voters know more about them. Pryor’s name is a good one in the state, and he has already run ads defining himself and painting a picture for voters of Republican Cotton. If the Democrat’s campaign can succeed in defining the choice facing voters, he has a chance to win.

The two House seats look to be a heavy lift for Democrats.

He thinks spending for governor and Senate will sap money and attention from the congressional races, particularly harmful in the sprawling 4th District. Weak GOP nominees in either district would help, he comments. Yes. Of course.

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