Although certain polls from April and early May suggested that Sen. Mark Pryor had opened up a large lead over Rep. Tom Cotton, more recent polling suggests that the race is neck-and-neck. I made that case here.
Now, American Crossroads has released a survey showing Cotton with a 46-41 lead. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.39.
American Crossroads is, of course, strongly pro-Cotton. In fact, it has just spent around half a million dollars on a TV ad that reminds Arkansas voters of the essential truth that Pryor consistently votes the Obama line (the ad appears below).
The National Journal construes the poll and ad buy as “an attempt to reassure nervous supporters that Cotton is a clear-cut favorite to win in November after a rocky couple of months for his campaign.” As a supporter who has been nervous, I don’t see Cotton as a “clear-cut favorite,” but I’m fully reassured that he has a good shot.
The poll shows that Pryor and Cotton both have decent approval ratings. The Senator has 45 percent approval compared to 36 percent disapproval. Tom is at 40-36.
By contrast, Obama is way under water at 35-62.
Normally, popular incumbents are unable to overcome that level of leadership unpopularity. Massachusetts voters liked Scott Brown. They nonetheless voted him out, in favor of a challenger who hardly set the campaign trail on fire, out of disdain for his Party. And here in Maryland, a popular Republican governor, Bob Ehrlich, was ousted for basically the same reason.
Scott Brown was, if anything, a less reliable party line Senate voter than Mark Pryor. So Pryor should be particularly vulnerable. But his family name keeps him above water, or at least treading it.
The Crossroads ad, which I find excellent, should help Cotton pull Pryor down.