Senate: The Latest Trends for Majority Control

    Close Senate Races Leaning D:

  • Colorado
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
    Close Senate Races Leaning R:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
    Close Senate Races Leaning I:

  • Kansas
    Flat Tie:

  • Iowa
    Headed to Post-Election Run-off (Dec. 6):

  • Louisiana
    Today’s Count:

  • D: 46
  • Independent/D: 3 (Kansas, Maine, Vermont)
  • Total D/I: 49
  • Total R: 49
  • Undecided: 2 (Iowa; Louisiana)

While Democrats are trending upward in Colorado, Michigan, and North Carolina, two new polls from a nominally Democratic pollster simultaneously see a push toward two Republican challengers.

Public Policy Polling surveyed voters in both Alaska and Arkansas during the same three-day period, Sept. 18-21, and found GOP contenders Dan Sullivan and Rep. Tom Cotton now taking leads in their respective campaigns. In Cotton’s case, where most pollsters have shown him running slightly ahead recently, PPP now projects the congressman to be exceeding the margin of polling error. Perhaps more seriously, incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D) is falling seriously upside down in matters relating to his job approval rating.


During the aforementioned period, Public Policy Polling surveyed 880 likely voters and found former attorney general and Department of Natural Resources director Dan Sullivan taking a 43-41 percent lead over one-term Sen. Mark Begich (D). This, after two other Democratic polls released just last week posted the senator to identical five-point leads.

The PPP poll also swings seriously Republican in a series of questions about the impending 2016 presidential race. Here, prospective Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton actually trails all Republican prospective candidates in hypothetical ballot testing. No state has previously produced such a result.

But, in the governor’s race, the same polling sample gives Independent/Democrat nominee Bill Walker a 42-41 percent edge over Gov. Sean Parnell (R). The Democrats and Independents’ ploy of joining forces in support of one unified ticket has obviously breathed new life into their hybrid coalition team.

Sen. Begich’s job approval ratio has also tumbled. Only 42 percent of the respondents rated his work in Washington as positive versus 51 percent who believe he is performing in a negative fashion. Sullivan’s personal favorability ratio is 44:42 percent positive to negative, which is better but not particularly strong.

Considering the just-completed study that detected a severe historical Alaska polling skew in favor of the Democrats, these new PPP numbers should be very encouraging to Dan Sullivan and the underdog Republicans.


Public Policy Polling, during the identical period when fielding questions in Alaska, tested 1,453 Arkansas voters. Within this representative group, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) is indeed pulling away, posting one of his best results of the entire election cycle.

The congressman’s 43-38 percent lead over two-term incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D) certainly depicts a clear advantage. Whether this becomes a pad from which to launch a stretch drive run that cements his lead remains to be seen, but the poll represents some of the best definitive news for Cotton that he has seen in quite some time.

For Democrats, perhaps the most disturbing piece of information contained in the PPP data is Sen. Pryor’s job approval rating. Though PPP tends to skew negative on such questions in virtually all of their studies, a 36:51 percent negative job approval rating is so low that Pryor must be in upside down territory no matter how deep any potential polling may skew. By contrast, Cotton’s personal approval is 40:41 percent, not particularly robust, but certainly stronger than his opponent’s. The personal ratings taking a hit is not surprising considering the negative ads being run almost continually against both candidates from the contenders themselves and various outside organizations.

But, Suffolk University (Sept. 20-23; 500 likely Arkansas voters) released their results a day after PPP and contradict their conclusions. The Suffolk survey returns Sen. Pryor to a lead, 45-43 percent. As found within the PPP data, however, this poll also detects a poor job approval score for the senator. According to this sampling universe, Pryor only scores a 38:49 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio when questioned about the job he performs in Washington.

Closing in on the last few weeks of the campaign cycle, the Arkansas race is going down to the wire. Considering the performance in some of the other states, the Pryor-Cotton campaign is turning into a must-win for the GOP.

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