Republicans Hold Narrow Leads In New Polls

By John Celock

New Rasmussen polls show Republicans holding narrow leads in the Arkansas governor and Senate races, along with the Massachusetts governor’s race.

The Arkansas gubernatorial poll, released by Rasmussen Friday shows Republican Asa Hutchinson leading Democrat Mike Ross 49 percent to 47 percent. The race between Hutchinson, a former head of the Transportation Security Administration, and Ross, a former congressman, has remained competitive all year as Democrats seek to continue their eight year grip on the Arkansas governor’s mansion. Gov. Mike Beebe (D) is term limited. Republicans control both chambers of the Arkansas Legislature.

The Arkansas gubernatorial race has been a top priority for Democrats nationally, looking to retain a foothold in the South. Former President Bill Clinton has campaigned in Arkansas on Ross’ behalf. Hutchinson was an impeachment manager against Clinton while a congressman, while Ross was a driver for Clinton early in his career.

In the Arkansas Senate contest, a Rasmussen poll shows Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton ahead of U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor (D) 47 percent to 44 percent in one of the country’s most competitive Senate races. Pryor, the son of a former governor and senator, is trying to grab a third term and continue a Democratic presence in the South. Cotton, a first term congressman, is seeking to become the country’s youngest senator. The race is considered one of the key races in battle for control of the Senate.

A Rasmussen poll released Thursday shows the Massachusetts gubernatorial contest competitive with a Republican advantage. The poll showed Republican nominee Charlie Baker, a businessman who unsuccessfully sought the governorship in 2010, ahead of Democratic nominee Martha Coakley, the state attorney general, 48 percent to 46 percent. The race between the two has been competitive since Coakley won the Democratic primary last month.

Coakley is seeking to overcome her 2010 U.S. Senate special election defeat, when her lead over Republican Scott Brown evaporated in the weeks before the election. While Massachusetts voters have tended to favor Democrats in Senate contests, Republicans won four out of the last six gubernatorial races in the state.

Coakley is seeking to become the state’s first elected female governor. Former Gov. Jane Swift (R) succeeded to the office after former Gov. Paul Cellucci (R) resigned to become ambassador to Canada. Coakley is also seeking to help boost the numbers of Democratic women governors nationally. Currently New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan is the only Democratic woman governor in the country, with the remaining four women governors being Republicans. In addition to Coakley and Hassan, who is seeking a second term, female Democrats seeking governorships this year include Rhode Island’s Gina Raimondo, Wisconsin’s Mary Burke and Texas’ Wendy Davis.