Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Race of the Day- Arkansas U.S. Senate

96 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2012 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Likely Republican

It has been a brutal political decade for Arkansas Democrats, as the state they once dominated is now reliably Republican. In each of the past two midterm cycles, once popular incumbent Democrat Senators were ejected by the voters in landslide decisions. Now, freshman Senator John Boozman is looking to become the first Arkansas Republican to ever be re-elected to the Senate.

Boozman does not seem to get much attention on Capitol Hill, as he mostly works behind the scenes, and has been somewhat overshadowed by his junior colleague. He left behind a safe seat in the U.S. House to take on incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln in 2010, and while it was expected to be a close race, he won overwhelmingly. Arkansas, always culturally conservative, has moved far, far away from Democrats during the Obama years.

Some among the state's Democrats still held out hope they could mount a credible campaign against Boozman and turned their hopes to Conner Eldridge, a 39 year old U.S. Attorney who resigned that position to run for Senate. He came highly touted by Democrats as a political talent and someone who could have cross-party appeal. Eldridge is attempting to paint himself as a centrist on issues such as guns, but some reviews of his candidacy have been less than stellar.

Boozman won a primary earlier this year with about 76 percent of the vote to once again become the Republican nominee while Eldridge was unopposed for the Democrats. There has not been much in the way of polling thus far, unlike the headline grabbing most recent Arkansas Senate contests, but all would agree that this is Boozman's race to lose.

In calling this race, "Likely Republican", I am basically being conservative, because this could very well be put into the Safe column quite soon. It might make sense though to wait for the debates to see if Eldridge can score any points against his opponent, keeping in mind that three recent Arkansas incumbent Senators saw their seats slip away.

Political observers are paying attention this year to the relationship between GOP Senate candidates and Donald Trump amid a controversial and divisive year for the party. Boozman has been willing to state disagreements with Trump and criticize him by name, but maintains he has to support him, in order to keep a former Arkansas couple out of the White House. If Eldridge is to somehow pull an upset, it will be so, working against the negative pull in the state of Hillary Clinton, who was Arkansas's First Lady for over a decade, before reaching national prominence nearly 25 years ago. There is not much that Bill or Hillary can do for federal level Democrats in his native state anymore. The 1990s are long gone.

Boozman campaign link:

Senate races predicted thus far: 0 D, 4 R (2 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans)
Overall predicted thus far: 36 D, 34 R


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