How Do You Spell ‘Pryor’? New Crossroads Ad Says ‘O-B-A-M-A’

American Crossroads also releases poll showing Pryor trailing Republican Tom Cotton by 5 points.

UNITED STATES - APRIL 25: Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., prepares to speak at a Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee's "Rural Summit," on issues such as housing, rural development, agriculture, education and conservation in the Dirksen Senate Office building. 
CQ-Roll Call,Inc.
Alex Roarty
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Alex Roarty
June 2, 2014, 8:05 p.m.

Amer­ic­ans Cross­roads is be­gin­ning a ma­jor ad buy in Arkan­sas on Tues­day, spend­ing nearly a half-mil­lion dol­lars on a new TV spot that tells view­ers Demo­crat­ic Sen. Mark Pry­or votes just like Pres­id­ent Obama.

And just as the Karl Rove-linked su­per PAC hits the air­waves, it’s also re­leas­ing an in­tern­al poll of its own show­ing the GOP nom­in­ee, Rep. Tom Cot­ton, with a com­fort­able 5-point lead over the two-term Demo­crat­ic in­cum­bent among likely voters. The GOP sur­vey re­ports the pres­id­ent’s ap­prov­al rat­ings hov­er­ing in the mid-30s — a dan­ger­ous level of sup­port for any can­did­ate run­ning in the same party.

Col­lect­ively, the ac­tions look like an at­tempt to re­as­sure nervous sup­port­ers that Cot­ton is a clear-cut fa­vor­ite to win in Novem­ber after a rocky couple of months for his cam­paign. Once the GOP’s most cel­eb­rated re­cruit of 2014, Cot­ton has watched a string of pub­lic polls this spring show Pry­or un­ex­pec­tedly hold­ing the lead — one by as many as 11 points. Al­though out­wardly still con­fid­ent, the Re­pub­lic­an’s aides began ac­know­ledging they had made mis­takes in the race’s early go­ing.

But Cot­ton still has the ad­vant­age of run­ning in a deeply red state and with the help of well-fun­ded out­side group al­lies, who have already spent mil­lions aid­ing his can­did­acy. The latest ad, a $440,000 buy spread over one week, re­vis­its an old theme of the cam­paign: Pry­or votes just like the un­pop­u­lar Obama.

In the spot, a grade-school­er is asked to spell “Pry­or” in a kind of mock spelling bee. The child re­sponds by spelling out “O-B-A-M-A,” and the judges rule that she was “close enough.” (The Scripps Na­tion­al Spelling Bee was held last week.)

Cross­roads’ sur­vey found Obama’s ap­prov­al rat­ing un­der­wa­ter, with 35 per­cent ap­prov­ing and 62 per­cent dis­ap­prov­ing of his per­form­ance. It showed Pry­or with a stronger fa­vor­ab­il­ity among voters — 45 per­cent ap­prov­ing, 36 per­cent dis­ap­prov­ing versus 40 per­cent to 36 per­cent for Cot­ton — but a gen­er­ic Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate with a 5-point edge over Pry­or, 45 per­cent to 40 per­cent.

The poll, con­duc­ted from May 27 to May 29 by Pub­lic Opin­ion Strategies, has a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or minus 4.39 per­cent­age points. It sur­veyed 500 likely voters by land­line and cell phone.

In the head-to-head match­up, Cot­ton leads 46 per­cent to 41 per­cent, with 7 per­cent un­de­cided.

“Forty-one per­cent is a per­il­ous place for an in­cum­bent to find him­self, and Mark Pry­or is a ser­i­ous un­der­dog to Tom Cot­ton in this race,” the polling memo from POS read.

The poll also found Re­pub­lic­an gubernat­ori­al can­did­ate Asa Hutchin­son lead­ing Demo­crat Mike Ross 48 per­cent to 42 per­cent. 

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