It's Friday, so lets go into the weekend with some good news. The Arkansas Democratic Party released a poll yesterday with good news for Senator Mark Pryor (D. AR):


Pryor leads Cotton by 46 percent to 41 percent in the survey from Opinion Research Associates, first shared with The Hill.

The race is a key battle for Senate control, and Cotton and Pryor have been fighting tooth and nail for months in the heavily conservative state.

Partisan polls should always be taken with a grain of salt, and this poll's methodology is unusual — it was conducted for more than a week, from Aug. 6-14. It's also a poll of registered voters, who tend to skew a bit more Democratic than likely voter samples, though the racial breakdown of the poll seems pretty close to what most strategists expect, at 87 percent white and 12 percent African-American.

Two recent public polls — an early August one from Democratic robo-polling firm Public Policy Polling and a late July one conducted by Hendrix College — found Cotton with a narrow lead in the race.

Arkansas has seen one of the widest gaps between Democratic and Republican polling this year, with Pryor leading in most Democratic polls and Cotton consistently up in polls from Republican firms. - The Hill, 8/21/14

The live-caller poll also showed Mike Ross (D. AR) tied with Asa Hutchinson (R. AR), 44-44, in the 2014 Arkansas Governor's race. The live-caller poll of 414 registered voters was conducted from Aug. 6-14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.  

I'm not surprised that Pryor is doing better than expected against Cotton. He's been hitting him hard on his votes to gut Social Security and Medicare as well as votes against federal disaster relief and Children's Hospital research funding. Another poll conducted this month by the AARP shows Senior Citizen voters trust Pryor more than Cotton:


AARP released polling today on attitudes of people aged 50 and over in Arkansas and it included a question on the U.S. Senate race. Overall, Mark Pryor led Tom Cotton 48-43 with 9 percent undecided. Voters weren't asked about two third-party candidates in the race.

The Pryor-Cotton polling showed gender gaps — men for Cotton and women by a wider margin for Pryor.

The older vote is believed to be critical in this race, particularly because of erosion in recent times of some traditional Democratic preferences among older voters. Republicans have sold a notion — inaccurate — that Democrats have somehow harmed Social Security. This is particularly ironic in the Pryor race because Cotton is a strong supporter of privatization of Social Security and Medicare — death to both those program as they've been known.

The poll's bigger picture is also important politically. Older Arkansans feel anxious about finances, with 50 percent fearing costs are rising faster than their incomes. Social Security and Medicare remain important with these voters. Drug costs are a big deal. Many have experienced workplace discrimination and they overwhelmingly support a federal law to give more workplace protections to older workers. The poll surveyed 1,200 likely Arkansas voters aged 50 or older. It included 742 retirees. - Arkansas Times, 8/11/14

Pryor has always been able to win over Senior Citizens and he will need them now more than ever. He's also been pushing to change the narrative on the Affordable Care Act in this race:


Pryor, for example, supported the Affordable Care Act that has helped Arkansans enormously, and as Greg Sargent reported yesterday, the conservative Democrat is no longer afraid to tout his record.

    In what may be the first, and certainly the most ambitious, such effort of the year, Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas is going up with a new and emotional ad that is focused solely on presenting his vote for health reform as a positive:

    The ad is backed by a significant, six-figure statewide buy, I’m told. The spot tells the story of Pryor’s own battle with cancer, and features the Senator sitting alongside his father, David Pryor.

Note, Pryor doesn’t mention the law by name – or its nickname – but he doesn’t have to. Instead, the senator emphasizes the popular benefits the Affordable Care Act provides for those who need it. “No one should be fighting an insurance company while you’re fighting for your life,” he tells viewers. “That’s why I helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick, or deny coverage for preexisting conditions.”

As striking as this is, the larger context is just as important. While Democrats in red states start boasting about ACA benefits, Republicans are moving away from their health care attack ads and struggling to answer questions about Medicaid expansion.

Earlier this year, all of this was supposed to be impossible. Republicans, we were assured, would stay on the offensive, attacking “Obamacare,” while Democrats desperately hid from the issue. And yet, here we are, watching the conventional wisdom get turned upside down. Indeed, Pryor’s ad is a reminder that while voters say they don’t like the reform law, they love what’s in the reform law – even in a red state in the Deep South. - MSNBC, 8/21/14

And Cotton's not as strong of a candidate as the GOP was hoping. This has to come to Arkansas to help him out:


Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will be campaigning in Arkansas for GOP Congressman Tom Cotton in Cotton's bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor.

The former Massachusetts governor is scheduled to appear with Cotton at a news conference in North Little Rock.

Romney is among several national GOP figures visiting the state during the next week and campaigned with gubernatorial hopeful Asa Hutchinson in Jonesboro on Wednesday. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is set to visit the state to campaign for Hutchinson next week. - KSPR 33, 8/21/14

We can still hold onto this race and the Governor's race. We just have to make sure our base comes out and votes. Click here to donate and get involved with pryor and Ross' campaigns:
Former congressman Mike Ross, right, and his wife Holly, left,  celebrate after winning the statewide democratic primary election in the race for Arkansas governor in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, May 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Brian Chilson)

Originally posted to pdc on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 08:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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