The Arkansas Election Line — a collaboration of Talk Business, The Tolbert Report, and Blue Hog Report — announces the first of two changes in our analysis of U.S. Congressional races. In AR-01, the Election Line moves its rating from “Leans Causey” to “Leans Crawford.”
This change is due in no small part to Talk Business polling in late August that showed Republican Rick Crawford with a 16-point lead over Democrat Chad Causey. This polling was at odds with polling numbers compiled by Zata3 and Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, which showed Causey with a 2-point lead and with a 1-point deficit respectively. (The results of both Zata3 and Garin were within the margin of error for each poll.)
So why “leans Crawford?” In the first place, the anti-Democrat winds have really picked up speed over the last six to eight weeks, especially in Arkansas, which would explain why the Talk Business results tracked pretty closely with “generic ballot” polling conducted by others around the same time. In AR-01, neither candidate has spent much money (relatively speaking) so far, resulting in a sort of “I don’t really know either guy” vibe among the typical AR-01 voters. That vibe is going to make a default anti-Dem attitude more pronounced in the results inasmuch as polled voters who don’t have a specific reason to vote for or against a certain candidate are much more likely to be swayed by the more general attitude about the parties.
Additionally, while Causey outraised Crawford in the most recent quarter, Crawford has a fairly sizable advantage in cash-on-hand, $213,592 to $90,685. This gap is far from fatal; the NRCC and the DCCC are certain to pump much more cash into this race before it is all said and done. Still, the fact that, as of right now, Crawford leads in cash supports the “leans Crawford” rating that we are giving the race.
If there is a silver lining among all of this for Causey, it is this: because the candidates’ unknowns seem to be factoring into the results, there is room for Causey to rapidly make up ground by defining himself and his opponent more clearly and by controlling the narrative. There is also time for Causey’s strategic moves — most notably distancing himself from President Obama and bringing in President Clinton to campaign for him — to have an effect on poll numbers. Finally, there is ample reason to believe that neither candidate is going to win this race by sixteen points, meaning Causey can expect and benefit from some organic tightening as well.
The Arkansas Election Line issues election ratings for several high-profile state and federal races. Our ratings provide an instant snapshot of a given race, and they can be “safe,” “strong,” “leans,” or “toss-up.”