- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

With six months to go before the 2014 midterm elections, a new poll shows that the national political environment is working in the GOP’s favor in crucial Senate races in the South that could decide which party controls the Senate, but that Democrats are still keeping the races close.

The New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation Southern States Poll  found that President Obama’s approval rating is in the tank in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and North Carolina — four states that the GOP presidential nominee carried in the 2012 election.

It also found that more than half of the registered voters in Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina would not support a candidate that disagrees with them on the issue of Obamacare.

The survey, though, also showed that two-term incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor has a 46- to 36-percent lead over his challenger, Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, in the Arkansas Senate contest.

Mr. Pryor has an approval rating of 47 percent, with 38 percent disapproving of him.

The picture is grimmer for North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, who holds a slight edge over two of her possible general election rivals — state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Greg Bannon — and has an approval rating of 44 percent, which matches her disapproval rating.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, meanwhile, is running neck-and-neck in a hypothetical match-up with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who remains unpopular, with 52 percent of those surveyed responding that they disapprove of the way he has handled his job.

Mr. McConnell, though, stands to benefit from the fact that 60 percent of the respondents in Kentucky said they disapprove of the way Mr. Obama is handling his job.

In Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, holds a large lead over GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy and the rest of the Republican field.

Mrs. Landrieu has a job approval rating of 49 percent, and a disapproval rating of 45 percent.

Looking to the 2016 presidential race, the poll shows that 54 percent of Louisiana voters disapprove of the way that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a possible GOP contender is handling his job, while 53 percent of Kentucky voters approve of the way Sen. Rand Paul is performing his duties.

The poll was conducted between April 8-15. The polls have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points for registered voters.

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