- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2014

Democratic candidates are hanging tough in three of this year’s hottest Senate races, particularly in Arkansas, despite an aggressive GOP effort to retake the upper chamber, said a NBC-Marist poll released Monday.

Sen. Mark Pryor, Arkansas Democrat, leads Republican challenger Tom Cotton by 11 points, 51 percent to 40 percent, among registered voters.

Michelle Nunn, the Democratic Senate candidate in Georgia, is keeping up with each of her potential GOP opponents.

And in Kentucky, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is 1 point away from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 46 percent to 45 percent, although Mr. McConnell is set to cruise over GOP primary opponent Matt Bevin, the pollsters found.

“These are competitive states as far as the general is concerned,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Arkansas, which was once thought to be Democrats’ most vulnerable [contest for an incumbent], may not be the most vulnerable.”

Mr. Pryor has done well among independents, with 48 percent to 41 percent for Mr. Cotton, a House member, and has secured support from 32 percent of the voters who disapprove of President Obama’s performance, even as Republicans try to tie incumbents like Mr. Pryor to the White House for supporting Obamacare.

On Monday, Mr. Cotton said that aspect of the campaign could still be the deciding factor.

“I think most Arkansans are ready to elect a conservative senator who’s not just going to be a rubber stamp for the Obama agenda, voting with Barack Obama 93 percent of the time and casting the decisive vote for Obamacare,” he told “Fox and Friends.”

In Georgia, Ms. Nunn trails businessman David Perdue, 41 percent to 45 percent, but she’s one point behind Rep. Paul Broun, tied with Rep. Jack Kingston and up two points on Rep. Phil Gingrey.

NBC-Marist found that Democratic strength in these states did not bleed into gubernatorial races there, where GOP candidates enjoy sizable leads.

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