Arkansas Election Line: Final 2010 Ratings

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    The Arkansas Election Line — a collaboration of Talk Business, The Tolbert Report, and Blue Hog Report — returns with our final ratings of the 2010 state and federal elections in Arkansas.  With one exception, the ratings remain unchanged from our last go-round.

    First, the change: In AR-01, the Election Line moves its rating from “Leans Crawford” to “Toss-Up”.

    When we last touched on this race, it was to move the rating from “Leans Causey” to “Leans Crawford.” We move the rating back leftward now simply because it is anyone’s guess as to who will win this race, and neither outcome would surprise us.  In the previous rating, I wrote:

    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.

    We change the rating today because, for one thing, the anti-Democrat sentiment seems to have lessened oh-so-slightly since the last time we rated this race.  No, the winds have not shifted so drastically that Joyce Elliott or Blanche Lincoln suddenly has a chance, but the hatred seems a little less palpable, at least as far as I can tell.

    Additionally, recent Talk Business/Hendrix polling shows Causey cutting Crawford’s 16-point lead in half, 42-34, with 20% still undecided.  Throw in a +/- 4.7% margin of error and Causey’s fundraising successes of late, and this race just becomes a pick ’em.

    That said, I am aware that the starboard side of the Good Ship AEL feels that Crawford will win, albeit in a squeaker.  It should come as no surprise, then, that I expect just the opposite; I predict a very, very slim victory for Chad Causey come Nov. 2.

    Now some quick hits on the rest of the races, which, as mentioned, remain unchanged from the last time we looked at them.

    In AR-Sen, AEL rates the race “Safe Boozman.” I’ll be totally honest: if Blanche Lincoln loses by less than 15, she will have drastically out-performed the predictions of everyone.  That, plus $4.00, will get her a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

    In AR-02, AEL rates the race “Safe Griffin.” I realize that Joyce Elliott has made a number of strategically sound moves lately, and I commend her for them (even if they were about four months too late).  Regardless, whether we consider race as a factor here or not, the object of Paul Greenberg’s unrequited love has run an irritatingly flawless campaign, and he is going to win by somewhere between 5 and 12 points next Tuesday.

    In AR-03, AEL rates the race “Safe Womack.” Meet the new Republican, same as the old Republican.

    In AR-04, AEL rates the race “Safe Ross.” Let’s do this in SAT analogy form.  Beth Anne Rankin : winning :: Twilight–New Moon : Pride and Prejudice.

    In AR-Gov, AEL rates the race “Safe Beebe.” I’m just going to quote myself from the previous rating:

    This lack of movement is based on several factors.  First, Beebe enjoys an amazing $2.5 million to $9,000 cash advantage over challenger Jim Keet, and that is after having bought all the media that Beebe anticipates needing between now and November 2.  Second, while it looked for a brief moment in mid-summer that Keet might make a race of this contest, he has since mishandled questions regarding his taxes and his airplane.  Third, Beebe seems to have been successful at pushing his message of jobs, Arkansas doing better than many states, and other improvements that have come under his watch.   Fourth, despite Keet’s best efforts, Beebe has remained outside the fray of the state-employee-automobile controversy.

    Yup, that.

    In AR-Lt. Gov., AEL rates the race “Toss-Up.” While my gut tells me that Shane Broadway will win this race on name recognition, all of the constitutional races save for governor present the question of whether name recognition (and cash advantage) trumps party identification.  Broadway has more money, more television time, and a better-known name; Mark Darr has an “R” by his name.  Your guess is as good as ours.

    In AR-Sec. State, AEL rates the race “Toss-Up.” If Lt. Gov. raises the question of name-versus-party, the Secretary of State race takes that question, smacks you in the face with it repeatedly, and then laughs as that question dates your sister and never calls her again.  Pat O’Brien has more cash, has run a better campaign, is running against an opponent who has some questionable reimbursements, and (by most accounts) beat Mark Martin in the AETN debate; Martin … um … well … he’s a Republican.

    In AR-Land Comm., AEL rates the race “Toss-Up.” This much we know: John Thurston understands black Arkansans.  After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

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    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.”