Clint Reed, a partner at Impact Management, a political consulting firm, and former executive director of the Arkansas Republican Party, has written an article for The City Wire and Talk Business on where the voter bases for Democrats and Republicans lie in Arkansas.
The 14 red counties, which reliably vote Republican, have grown sharply in population — by 143,000 — since 2002. The nine blue counties, reliable Democratic votes, have essentially not grown at all, by only 421. Not good for Democrats, of course. Plus, some once solid-blue counties have lost population and/or begun trending toward Republican votes.
So the purple counties, which can swing either way, become critical.
As you can see from the map, there are many “purple counties” that were carried by U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor in 2002 and then again by Gov. Mike Beebe in 2006. These counties will be paramount for Democrats to win if they have any chance of retaining the Governor’s office and the U.S. Senate seat.
It doesn’t help Democrats that Barack Obama is so unpoopular in Arkansas. But Reed offers a ray of hope.
In the 2010 election cycle, I surveyed thousands of independent voters. I found that only two Democratic candidates for congressional and statewide offices outperformed Republicans among independent voters. Those two candidates were Mike Ross and Mike Beebe. This suggests that a “blue-dog” Democratic candidate might be competitive.
PS: Re independents: Reed says current polling shows both Asa Hutchinson and Tom Cotton leading their respective races by double-digit margins. I don’t know if I buy that. But I do think this new polling, reputedly done for an Arkansas issue campaign and provided to Cook’s Outlook at Talk Business, shows Pryor with a 47-41 lead over Tom Cotton in the Senate race in a poll in which 42 percent of the respondents described themselves as independent.