- Associated Press - Sunday, August 31, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - In a campaign where we’ve already seen ads featuring the Ebola virus and a bird pooping on a newspaper, it’s hard to imagine how the Arkansas Senate race could get more intense - or more bizarre.

Though Labor Day is traditionally viewed as the time that campaigns heat up, this is a race that has showed little signs of slowing down. Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and Republican rival and Republican Congressman Tom Cotton have spent more than a year swapping attacks in the race, which has already run up a $20 million price tag and is viewed as crucial to the fight for Senate control.

It’s a tight race, and there’s plenty that could still be at play as the race begins its final stretch.

Here’s a look at the factors that could still tilt the Senate campaign:

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ADS, ADS AND MORE ADS

If you’re tired of the onslaught of political ads taking over the airwaves, you may want to turn off your TV for a few months. It’s not going to get better anytime soon.

The Senate race has already featured some of the most memorable - and bizarre - campaign ads in the election cycle. They include a Club for Growth ad that criticizes Pryor and ends with a parrot pooping on a newspaper, and Pryor’s most recent ad invoking the Ebola outbreak to criticize Cotton on pandemic response funding.

Though both sides complain about the onslaught of negative ads, the amount of money they’re investing in them is a sign the campaigns believe they work.

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

This is a race that has hinged more on domestic concerns like the health care law, Social Security and immigration than world events. But a growing number of international crises, from the Ukraine to Iraq, could easily change that.

An Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cotton is considered one of the more hawkish members of Congress and regularly chides the Obama administration’s foreign policy. He and Pryor split last year on whether to support military intervention in Syria.

If the White House seeks a vote on whether to use military action in Syria against a violent militant group, it could shake up a race that has been more focused on matters at home.

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