Obamacare Troubles Take Toll on Southern Dems

Image: Obamacare Troubles Take Toll on Southern Dems Sen. Mark Pryor

Tuesday, 03 Dec 2013 09:16 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Vulnerable Democrats in the South are seeing their support erode due to Obamacare problems and the president's plummeting approval ratings, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, recently named the most endangered Senate Democrat in 2014, is experiencing first-hand the difficulties the party is facing as it readies to try to save its slim Senate majority next year. Even the loyalty of longtime supporters is dwindling despite Pryor's easy re-election victory in 2008.

"I told him I felt he's listening to the Democratic Party, which has left us," Porter Briggs, a Little Rock businessman and lifelong Democrat, told the Journal. "It swung to the left and Mark went with them."

"The question is: Does the rightward shift in Arkansas voters solidify, to continue beyond this particular president, who continues to be peculiarly unpopular here, or can the Democrats white-knuckle it to 2016 and win back at least some of the brand loyalty they enjoyed for more than 100 years," Janine Parry, director of the nonpartisan Arkansas Poll, told the Journal.

Rex Nelson — former political editor of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette and a former GOP political adviser — told the Journal, "There is a depth of good will for the Pryor name and the entire Pryor family in Arkansas, but just being a Democrat has been such a weight since President Obama took office. I've never seen a president affect elections as much as this president."

Three of the four most vulnerable Senate Democrats next year are from the South, according to the Journal. In addition to Pryor, Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana are facing tough re-election fights. At the same time, well-known Democratic Senate challengers running against Republican incumbents in Kentucky and Georgia are also fighting an uphill battle, despite the two states' history of electing prominent Democrats.

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