EDITOR'S NOTE: The story below includes references to polling conducted by the firm Research 2000. The reliability and accuracy of Research 2000's polling has since been called into serious question by a report published in June 2010 by a group of statistical analysts.
Gearing up for a run-off Senate primary vote in just a few weeks, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D-Ark.) got a double-dose of good news on Thursday, reporting fundraising and polling numbers that outpace his opponent, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.).
The Halter campaign announced that he had taken in more than $777,000 in donations in the fundraising period for Apr. 29-May 19. That total was $225,000 more than Lincoln brought in (slightly more than $552,000). The money gives Halter a bit of capital to work with as the June 8 run-off election approaches.
Bolstering Halter's efforts a bit more was a Research 2000/Daily Kos poll released on Thursday showing that he leads Lincoln by a margin of 47 percent to 44 percent -- the second straight poll to show the lieutenant governor on top. For Democrats in the state, however, the major number may be the hypothetical match-ups between the two candidates and the Republican nominee for the Senate.
"In general election matchups, Republican nominee Rep. John Boozman leads Lincoln by 20 (58-38), Halter by 11 (53-42)," the poll announcement reads. "As an incumbent, Lincoln's Senate career is finished, whether in the runoff or general. Halter would begin the general election as the undisputed underdog, but running against a 10-year DC incumbent in Boozman."
Obviously, this does not close the door on Lincoln's re-election hopes. The senator has benefited from former President Bill Clinton campaigning on her behalf -- though there has not been, up to this point, any additional assistance from the Obama White House.
That said, the situation is growing bleaker. A runoff election almost always results in a depressed turnout. And if it comes down to a ground game, having union backers in the state (even with the small union force in Arkansas) is a huge asset for Halter.
Moreover, having the third party candidate in the initial election (DC Morrison) drop out of the runoff seems likely to help Halter as well.
As a strategist helping with the Halter effort noted, Morrison's voters had the chance to vote for Lincoln in the past and chose not to do so in 2010. It's hard to imagine -- in an anti-incumbent year -- that they would suddenly find the senator worth backing after having opposed her weeks earlier. If anything, they will vote for Halter or sit out the election altogether.