Why Blanche Lincoln will defeat Bill Halter in the Arkansas Senate run-off
First off, this is just prognostication, and if you are an Arkansas Democrat, you should vote before polls close in your state tonight.
Whoever wins in the Democratic Senate primary run-off this evening in Arkansas doesn’t really matter. Neither Blanche Lincoln nor Bill Halter is likely to defeat Republican Rep. John Boozman down the line. In November, Arkansas’s currently blue Senate seat is set to turn red.
In the meanwhile, a lot of predictions are streaming in that Lincoln is preparing for defeat, and that Halter will win, by as much as 7 to 10 percent according to Arkansas insiders quoted by Mike Allen. But I’m having trouble believing the polls will play out this way. It’s Lincoln’s race to lose, for sure, but most likely in November.
Now it’s possible that Lincoln’s supporters aren’t nearly as enthusiastic about voting for her a second time as Halter’s will be to seal the deal. That’s the factor that could deliver the race to Halter – a more riled up core of supporters who will do everything they can to crown him the upset Democratic nominee. And with a slim lead over Halter last time around – about 2% – that could count in the pinch.
But the only recent published poll that shows Halter winning, by 4% from Research2000 as of June 2-4, has some troubles with its methods. For instance, 48% of the people they polled voted for Halter in May, but only 42% of the actual Democratic electorate voted that way in the real election. So the R2K poll that show him leading is polling a greater share of likely Halter supporters than actually cast ballots last time around.
And, 3% of the 600 voters they polled didn’t vote in May, and of that group, 41% of them say they’d rather vote for Halter (to Lincoln’s 21%). How many more Arkansans would prefer to vote for Halter, but won’t bother turning out for him?
All told, the poll showed 6% undecided, and that group could break for Lincoln in substantial enough quantities to give her the padding she needs to win it. If I had someone to bet with on this race, I’d definitely bet that she’ll edge him out by a small amount, not much different than she did in May.
Then, she’ll lose in November, overtaken not by an anti-incumbent mood, but by an anti-Democratic mood in Arkansas. Story over.