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New NBC polling shows U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ahead
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — Republican U.S. Senate candidates in Arkansas and Kentucky have opened up small leads over their Democratic opponents. according to new polling, which could be good news for the GOP’s chances to wrest control of the Senate from Democratic hands.
The NBC News/Marist polls, released September 7, showed Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton at 45 percent among likely voters in Arkansas, compared to incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Pryor at 40 percent. Cotton’s lead was beyond the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had an even bigger lead over his opponent, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Among likely voters, McConnell was the choice of 47 percent, compared to 39 percent for Grimes. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
Previous public polling had both of these races as toss-ups.
Part of what may be fueling the stronger showing by Republican candidates is President Barack Obama’s abysmal approval rating in both states.
In Arkansas, 61 percent of registered voters disapproved of the president’s performance, while only 31 percent approved. And more than 70 percent of Arkansans said the country was on the wrong track.
In Kentucky, Obama’s approval ratings were even worse, with 62 percent disapproving and just 31 percent approving. And nearly three-quarters of Kentuckians thought the country was on the wrong track.
The NBC/Marist poll also took at look at the open governor’s race in Arkansas. It showed that Republican Asa Hutchinson at 48 percent and Democrat Mike Ross at 39 percent, well beyond the margin of error.
Both Hutchinson and Ross are former members of the U.S. House. Incumbent Democratic Governor Mike Beebe is term-limited.