Arkansas, the state that delivered the presidency for native Bill Clinton, is in danger of abandoning its Democratic allegiance, as Republicans continue to make inroads against the backdrop of an unpopular president and vulnerable Senate incumbents, the Los Angeles Times
"Far from the one that gave the nation its 42nd president, Arkansas has caught up with the political shift of its Southern neighbors," Lisa Mascaro of the Times wrote. "Now, even a place called Hope is no longer a Democratic stronghold, but an increasingly Republican one."
The newspaper reported that signs point to Republican populism taking root, which could ultimately contribute to the outcome of which party controls the Senate after the 2014 midterm elections. The Times compared Arkansas to other Southern states, where some Democratic Senate incumbents are struggling to hold on to their seats.
Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas is considered vulnerable, even having come from a strong political dynasty and winning 80 percent of the vote just six years ago.
But since then, the GOP has taken over the statehouse, the state's delegation in the House and its second Senate seat.
"Everybody on both sides recognizes this is a huge cycle that locks in a new normal," Jay Barth, a politics professor at Hendrix College, told the Times.
"Is that new normal ongoing, competitive two-party competition?" he said. "Or is the new normal a state that looks more like a Mississippi, an Alabama or a Tennessee that's gone so emphatically Republican? It's one of those elections where a path is going to be taken. It's just unclear what path it is."
Strategists, academics and voters broadly agree that the change in the state's overall party allegiance has occurred since the election of President Barack Obama
, when bias against his race and misinformed beliefs he is Muslim have helped swing the state against Democrats, according to the Times.
But all is not lost for the Democrats, according to the newspaper. If Pryor retains his seat and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton runs for president, the party has a chance for a resurgence.
"This is a sort of make or break year for Democrats in Arkansas," Lizzy Price, a spokeswoman for the state party, told the Times. "We're putting everything into it."
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