A poll released Tuesday by the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund finds that our friend Rep. Tom Cotton leads Sen. Mark Pryor by 8 points in a projected 2014 contest for the Pryor’s Arkansas Senate seat. The poll also finds that Pryor is viewed favorably by only 36 percent of Arkansas voters.
I should add that Tom has not made a decision about whether to run for the Senate in 2014.
The poll should perhaps be viewed with a grain of salt. In January, a survey by Basswood Research, a Republican firm, showed Pryor with a 53 percent favorable rating. Although a six-figure TV ad buy attacking Pryor presumably hurt the incumbent, it’s not easy to believe that the ad campaign, even if coupled with harm to Democrats from the sequester battle, would cause a 17 point drop in the Senator’s rating.
On the other hand, Mitt Romney (no Tom Cotton) carried Arkansas by 24 points last year. Pryor is an excellent politician and perhaps the most sensible Democrat in the Senate. But does it defy reason to believe that, against a high-quality opponent, he won’t run more than 16 points better than Obama did in 2012 (or more than 13 points better than Blanche Lincoln in 2010)?
I don’t think so.
In any case, Pryor would have to run 24 points better than Romney, and 21 points better than Lincoln, in order to prevail. That’s certainly not impossible, but it wouldn’t be easy against Tom.