Halter’s Long Odds


Blanche Lincoln is sufficiently to the right of most congressional Democrats that it’s easy to imagine she’s someone it’d be easy to mount a primary challenge to. And certainly with Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter securing a large financial commitment from the AFL-CIO, he’s got a decent shot. But Tom Schaller points out that Arkansas isn’t just more conservative than the rest of America, it has a much more conservative group of self-identified Democrats:

It’s also not clear that there’s that much room to run to Lincoln’s left in Arkansas, which has one of the more conservative sets of Democratic primary electorates in the country — only 36 percent of Democratic primary voters identified as liberal (and 12 percent as very liberal) in 2008, according to exit polls. Along the same lines, while 25 percent of Arkansas Democrats say that Lincoln is too conservative, 18 percent think she’s too liberal. Halter can perhaps win just by being fresher/different/”better”, but there’s not likely to be the appetite in Arkansas — even among the Democratic primary electorate — for a mere Southern-fried coastal liberal.

What’s more, both Lincoln and Halter are looking doomed in the general election. In Presidential politics, Arkansas has become a very conservative state—Obama got 38.9 percent of the vote compared to 52.9 percent nationwide—and you have fewer people inclined to ticket-split these days than you did in the past.