Huffpost Politics

Mark Pryor Holds Slight Edge Over Tom Cotton In Arkansas Senate Race

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MARK PRYOR
U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), jokes with reporters after a news conference at his Little Rock, Ark., campaign headquarters Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston) | ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Despite rumblings that Sen. Mark Pryor is all but certain to lose to his reelection battle this year, a pair of new polls shows the Arkansas Democrat maintaining a competitive edge over Rep. Tom Cotton, his GOP challenger.

Two independent polls released this week underscore that the race between Pryor and Cotton remains close, even as Republicans spend millions attacking the Democratic incumbent over his support for Obamacare. A Talk Business Research/Hendrix College poll out Tuesday found Pryor leading Cotton by 3 points, whereas a survey conducted by Opinion Research Associates, released on Thursday, showed Pryor up by 10 points. The Thursday poll was sponsored by GARN, a group supporting legislation to increase the minimum wage in Arkansas, and is somewhat of an outlier given its wide margin for Pryor over Cotton.

HuffPost Pollster's model, which combines all publicly available polling, has consistently shown the two candidates separated by just a few percentage points.

The polls are nonetheless good news for Pryor, who has widely been regarded as the most vulnerable Senate Democrat trying to hold onto his seat in November. Both President Barack Obama and his health care law remain deeply unpopular in Arkansas, prompting Pryor to distance himself from some of the Democratic Party's main priorities, including a federal minimum wage hike and gun control.

In addition to forging a path that oftentimes differs from Obama's agenda, Pryor has also pinned his hopes on the legacy of his father. David Hampton Pryor represented Arkansas in the U.S. House and Senate and as governor, and remains enormously popular to this day.

Cotton, a freshman lawmaker in the House, doesn't share the benefit of name recognition. But he has emerged as a rising conservative star -- leaving Democrats to try and expose a voting record they contend is extreme.

The Talk Business Research/Hendrix College poll was conducted April 3-4, 2014, among 1,068 Arkansas frequent voters statewide. The Opinion Research Associates poll was conducted April 1-8, with 400 registered voters in Arkansas questioned by telephone.

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