Last week, The Polling Company/Women Trend released the results of their study conducted for the Citizens United Political Action Committee (Dec. 6-7; 400 registered Arkansas voters) as reported here. The results gave Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) a rather surprising 48-41 percent lead over two-term incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D).
Yesterday, Public Policy Polling implementing a robo-call survey for the Americans United for Change liberal political organization (Dec. 13-15; 1,004 registered percent voters) finds that the race is tied at 44 percent. This latter data, though better for the senator but by no means a positive finding for any incumbent seeking re-election, is closer to the results produced in earlier polls.
The PPP data also provided some interesting cross-tabs. There is a huge gender gap developing in this race as the surveyors detected women breaking for Pryor 49-37 percent, while male voters prefer the Republican challenger by an even larger 53-39 percent spread.
The sample size also skewed toward women, by a factor of two percentage points. This partially explains why the ballot test margin was much closer than found in the Citizen’s United poll. According to the US Census Bureau (2010 data), 50.9 percent of the Arkansas population is female, but the polling segmentation identified 53 percent women in this particular sample draw.
Additionally, the number of Democrats and Independents were both in the same realm, tallying approximately 37 percent apiece within the entire sample. The latter number is lower than the actual statewide count, however. In reality, stronger affiliation numbers are normally detected for Independents than Democrats, and are considerably higher than self-identifying Republicans. The polling methodology places the Republicans some 10 full percentage points behind the Democrats and Independents, a reasonable gap for a southern state. The female skew and the lower Independent numbers together provide most of the basis for Sen. Pryor’s enhanced standing.
Though this latest Arkansas data places Sen. Pryor in a tie with Rep. Cotton, it is clear that the race is trending in the challenger’s favor. Accounting for the slight skews in the polling sample pull, Rep. Cotton actually leading by a small margin is a conclusion one could reasonably draw from this poll.
The current Public Policy Polling survey is more evidence that the Arkansas Senate race is the Republicans’ best early challenger opportunity in the country.