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Analysis: Tight polls in Southern Senate races might not spell doom for Democrats

Senators Landrieu, Pryor and Hagan are still hanging on, despite the political winds against them.

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics. editor

southern states ttankThe latest poll in the 2014 Arkansas U.S. Senate race showed the Democratic incumbent, U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, with a small but statistically insignificant lead over his Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton. Recent polls in Louisiana and North Carolina also show Senate races in those states neck-and-neck.

So is Pryor’s glass half full or half empty? And ditto for Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Kay Hagan in North Carolina?ME sm

Yes, their votes in favor of Obamacare have proven politically toxic, and they’ve already been blasted with millions of dollars in negative ads. And yet, despite the headwinds blowing against them, they’re still standing.

So the question is, can their opponents really do anything between now and November to make these senators even less popular than they are now? Or has their unpopularity reached a floor through which it cannot fall?

In Arkansas, where I live, the negative ads have reached such a saturation point that they’ve become annoying background noise. The attacks have become monotone: Cotton is a politician we just can’t trust. Pryor is part of the sinister Obama-Pelosi-Obamacare cabal. And yet, this race hasn’t budged from where it was in October.

The problem for Cotton, and for Republican challengers in North Carolina and Louisiana, could be that most of the voters who can be persuaded to dislike Pryor, Hagan and Landrieu have already been persuaded to vote against them. And this still hasn’t put the Republicans in the lead.

Of course, all of these senators are much weaker politically than incumbents usually are, and they are running in states that Mitt Romney carried in 2012. The fortunes of Hagan and Landrieu may also rise or fall on who wins the Republican Senate primaries in their states.

But given all of the factors arrayed against Pryor, Hagan, and Landrieu, the fact that they aren’t behind at this point could bode well for their ultimate survival.




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