Dem poll: Republican narrowly leads Arkansas Senate race

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has a narrow lead over Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), according to a new automated survey conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

Cotton leads Pryor by 41 percent to 39 percent in the poll, with two third-party candidates combining for 7 percent, the latest sign of a tight race, where Cotton might hold a slight edge.

Those numbers are slightly better for Cotton than the last time PPP polled the state. Pryor led by 1 point in April, and the two were tied in December.

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Other recent polling has found a tight race. A late July poll from Hendrix College found Cotton leading Pryor by 44 percent to 42 percent, while recent internal polls from Pryor's and Cotton's campaigns each found them in the lead.

Partisan polls should always be taken with a grain of salt, and automated surveys without a cellphone sample tend to be a bit less reliable than live-caller polls. But PPP is the latest pollster to find things tight in Arkansas.

Another sign of a close race: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is going on the air with a huge $3.6 million ad buy in the state. Their first ad accuses Cotton of being the only member of Arkansas to vote against funding for the state's lone children's hospital.

"I don't know where his priorities are, but they're not with Arkansas children," a former social worker from the hospital says of Cotton in the ad.

The automated poll of 1,066 Arkansas voters was conducted from Aug. 1-3, with 80 percent of the sample from auto-dialing and 20 percent from an Internet sample for those who only have a cellphone. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent.

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