Club for Growth Action and the Senate Conservatives Fund released results of a new poll Tuesday that shows a significant drop over the past two months in how Arkansas voters view Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, a top Republican target in 2014.
Pryor's favorability in the state has plummeted 28 points in just a seven-week period, the new poll shows. The Club commissioned a baseline poll in late January from Republican polling firm Basswood Research, in which 53 percent of likely voters had a favorable opinion of Pryor. In the new survey, conducted March 16-17, Pryor's favorable rating dropped to just 36 percent.
Worse for Pryor, the new poll shows him trailing Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., in a head-to-head matchup. Cotton would lead Pryor, 43 percent to 35 percent, with 22 percent of voters undecided, the poll shows. Cotton, a freshman who is considered a rising star in the party, has been floated as a potential challenger to Pryor next year but has yet to announce a decision about the race.
The Club for Growth, in the release, takes credit for the decline in Pryor's favorability, noting that it comes on the heels of a statewide television spot by the group. That ad, which ran for two weeks on a $101,000 buy, sought to tie Pryor to President Obama, who lost the state by 24 points in 2012, citing Pryor's votes in favor of the Affordable Care Act, the administration's stimulus package and the bank bailout.
The groups declined to release a full script for the poll, but Club for Growth communications director Barney Keller said that the the ballot test and favorability questions came at the beginning of the survey, prior to any message-testing questions that could have affected the results.
Pryor has sought to distance himself from the administration and fellow Democrats in recent months, refusing to join some of his Democratic colleagues in advocating for a ban on assault weapons and pushing for passage of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The new poll surveyed 600 likely voters, with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated Sen. Pryor's vote on the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. He voted in favor of it.