Democrats work for a firewall in Arkansas House | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Democrats work for a firewall in Arkansas House

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 11:36 AM

click to enlarge LEAH WILLIAMS: Could this Democrat win a House seat in Bentonville? It's not as crazy as you think. John Paul Hammerschmidt backs her.
  • LEAH WILLIAMS: Could this Democrat win a House seat in Bentonville? It's not as crazy as you think. John Paul Hammerschmidt backs her.
Recommended: Reporting by David Ramsey in this week's Arkansas Times on the battle for control of the Arkansas House, currently in the hands of Republicans 51-49.

Both parties worked hard at recruiting. Many candidates are well-financed. Both parties see opportunities to retake seats held by the other party.

If there's a Republican tidal surge, it might not matter. But even the University of Arkansas's Arkansas Poll, released this morning, showed only a 41-36 generic Republican preference among all respondents on state legislative races (45-36 among very likely voters).

Doing a generic preference on 100 House races is akin to sticking one arm in a deep fryer and one in a deep freezer and finding an average body temperature. Too much variation exists from district to district, particularly in the uncontested districts where preferences are so huge that elections aren't contested.

Democrats have hope this year. It has three strong Democratic candidates in Republican Benton County, a county nonetheless changing with growth in Latino voting and urbanized young people who are part of the economic boom. They might be fiscal Republicans, but far fewer of them are extremist social voters, such as those who have held sway in the past.

The biggest problem area for Democrats is Jonesboro. It is trending red and Democrats there face tough Tea Party-style challengers who are being supported by outside money.

Again — absent a tidal wave that inundates all — Democrats can make a case for a Democratic House majority. If everything else goes bad, that could make a very big difference. The party might actually be able to live to fight another election. Lose the House and it's Oklahoma.

Cynical and desperate tactics (see Republican Stacy Hurst's mean race for legislature against Democrat Clarke Tucker in Little Rock) will be much in evidence in the final days.

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