By now, everyone knows that Arkansas’s incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln faces a monumental challenge in her bid to win a third term in Washington. Most of the polls have her trailing Republican Rep. John Boozman by nearly 30 points. The political pundits have already written her off and are ready to concede the election right now to Boozman.
However, it might be wise for everyone to exercise a bit of caution before calling this race. We have several months left before Arkansas voters go to the polls, and a lot of things can change in that time period. Granted, if these polls are anywhere close to being accurate, it does indeed look like Sen. Lincoln has a lot of ground to make up before November. But keep in mind what the pundits were saying before the Democratic primary and subsequent runoff. Most – including nationally known political analysts Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg – didn’t even think Lincoln would make it this far.
Both Cook and Rothenberg thought Lincoln might lose in the primary against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, and they predicted that it would be virtually impossible for her to win the runoff. Somehow, Lincoln defied the odds in both of those elections and survived. Former President Bill Clinton has even dubbed her as “the new comeback kid.”
Now comes the long campaign before the November elections, and the doomsday prophets are at it again. One of the more widely known pollsters – the Rasmussen Reports – has Lincoln losing to Boozman by a 61-32 percent margin. It may be that this group and others will be proven right in their prognostication. However, I don’t see how any group can definitively say that a telephone survey of 500 “Likely Voters in Arkansas” can be viewed as the final word on this election, which is three and a half months away.
It is debatable how much the ag sector in Arkansas will ultimately influence the final outcome in November. But this much we know. A last-minute grassroots effort by the Lincoln campaign staff to roll out the ag vote in every county in the state paid big dividends in May. It will take that kind of effort and more for the senator to close the gap and claim victory in November.
Stay tuned for what will be one of the most watched campaigns in the country.