The PPP poll released yesterday appraising the Arkansas Senate race showed Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) modestly beating incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR). And yet, Suffolk University/USA Today’s findings released today shows the Democrat in the race actually ahead. What gives?
Let’s take a look.
Obviously, the biggest takeaway is that Pryor is now ostensibly the front-runner (45/43). This is especially perplexing because the Suffolk sample breakdown is less generous toward Democrats (D+4) than PPP’s (D+8). In other words, there were a lot fewer self-described Democrats who participated in the survey today than yesterday. And yet Pryor still outperforms Cotton. How?
My theory: Suffolk’s sample size is much smaller. Only 500 likely voters participated in the Suffolk survey. By contrast, almost 1500 likely voters partook in PPP’s. These very different sample sizes, therefore, may account for the disparity.
“At this point Arkansas appears to be shaping up as a ‘purple’ state, with voters see-sawing between Democratic and Republican candidates for top offices,” the director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, David Paleologos, said in a statement.
Perhaps. But remember the president of PPP said only yesterday, “Arkansas is leaning toward supporting the GOP ticket right now.” So who do we trust?
Basically, we'd at least need to see a few more polls, I think, before determining conclusively who's more likely to win at this stage in the game.
Parting (completely unrelated) fact: GOP primary voters in Arkansas prefer Mitt Romney (33%) over Mike Huckabee (29%) for president if both candidates take the plunge in 2016.
Maybe, just maybe, the "Romney 2016!" crowd is on to something.