Arkansas Voters Unhappy With Obama White House

Monday, 19 May 2014 02:27 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Arkansas might be the home of former President Bill Clinton, but voters there aren't happy with the next Democrat to follow him into the White House.

"People are sick and tired of the path we're taking," barbershop owner Jerry Hood told National Journal writer Ron Fornier, referring to President Barack Obama. "They're sick and tired of Obama and Obamacare...a lot of people coming in here talking about voting against every Democrat."

One Arkansas race could determine control of the Senate this fall, so voters' opinions on Obama are key in that contest.

Arkansas is not alone in its Obama dilemma. Republicans lead in the most competitive House and Senate races for the 2014 midterm elections, a reflection of Obama's low job approval rating and disenchantment with Obamacare, a new poll has found.

In a poll by Politico May 2 to 13 of 867 likely voters, 41 percent of respondents said they would choose a Republican compared to 34 percent who said they would choose a Democrat.

In Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, seeking re-election, is facing Republican Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, a war hero and Harvard graduate, this fall. Pryor spokesman Erik Dorey told the National Journal his candidate is facing "headwinds" because of Obama.

The president has only made one visit to Arkansas, and that came just recently to tour tornado damage. In addition, he's alienated the white working-class voters who can sway elections, The National Journal reported.

Cotton also faces some issues. He has voted against the federal farm bill because of its food stamp provisions, a potential black eye for a person representing a largely agricultural state, the National Journal said.

In addition, he supported the government shutdown, along with plans to raise the eligibility age for Medicare. Internal polls show Cotton is trailing among voters older than 55, while GOP gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson is leading in his race among voters in that age bracket.

Hutchinson is also casting his Democratic challenger, former Rep. Mike Ross, as a Obama sympathizer, and he believes he will win this race, although he's lost three other statewide contests.

Ross is using a loophole to refute Hutchinson's accusations that he supported Obamacare, but attacks Hutchinson for his position on the state's private option plan, "a popular and successful Medicaid expansion plan fashioned from Obamacare by Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe," according to the National Journal.

Whether a potential Hillary Clinton presidential campaign is competitive in Arkansas could ride on whether Ross or Pryor win.

If they both lose, "Arkansas is out of reach" for Clinton, Jay Barth, a Hendrix College professor of politics, told the National Journal. Barth also co-authored a book about Arkansas politics with Clinton friend Diane Blair.

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