In Arkansas, Democrat Blanche Lincoln Struggles
Van Buren, AR (Politico) ~ Blanche Lincoln needs to reach out to seniors so badly that she even dared to interrupt a Bingo game.
“Nobody told me we’d be honored with Ms. Lincoln’s presence,” the announcer said somewhat sarcastically at a senior center where some 25 people had gathered on a Thursday morning. “We’ll hold a little while, I guess.”
Down in the polls and written off by both the media and her own party, the Democratic incumbent is engaged in a furious brand of retail politics that will take her to at least 109 Arkansas cities, including this sleepy town of 22,000 people near the Oklahoma border, where she dropped in on a game of Bingo, introduced herself to blue-collar patrons at a tiny diner, secured support from a woman at a nail salon and asked a gun-carrying constituent on Van Buren’s Main Street for his vote.
Lincoln is littering the state with brochures calling her “One Tough Lady,” telling voters about her family’s seven generations in Arkansas and constantly touting the fact that she’s the first Arkansan to chair the powerful Senate Agriculture Committee. Yet she’s also stuck trying to explain her reasons for backing the controversial new health care law and finds herself insisting to voters that she is, indeed, a moderate.
None of that may matter, as Lincoln finds herself on the receiving end of sharp voter backlash against Washington incumbents in a year in which Republicans are poised to make dramatic gains in the House and the Senate.
Public polls show that Republican Rep. John Boozman is poised to easily walk away with the race — he’s up double digits in all but Lincoln’s own internal polls — and, in an interview, Boozman sounded confident that he’d ride a wave of anger toward the Democratic majority into the Senate seat in the fall elections.
Lincoln’s internal polling shows her trailing by just 7 percentage points after being down by as much as 20, according to several people familiar with the numbers. And she’s trying to convince national Democrats that a late surge could help her pull off another shocker after her come-from-behind victory in a June runoff against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in the Democratic primary.
In an interview, Lincoln claimed she was within “striking distance” of Boozman — but she said she was “disappointed” with the lack of aid from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for resources in the field. A DSCC spokesman said the committee hadn’t counted her out as others have and was “100 percent” behind her, and a campaign aide noted Lincoln is “grateful” for the DSCC’s donations to her campaign.
Lincoln acknowledged that the vicious primary put a “chink in my armor” and that she’s facing serious headwinds. But she maintains that she is fiercely independent of her party and President Barack Obama, who is wildly unpopular here.
In the interview, Lincoln declined to assess Obama’s presidency, saying he “hasn’t had time” and that voters expect “immediate gratification” for the bills that Democrats have pushed through Congress. But she saves her praise for another Democratic president, Bill Clinton, this state’s native son who cut an ad for her last week attacking Boozman on Social Security and Medicare.
“When you look at the difference between me and my opponent, he’s taken his party’s side every time over what Arkansas needs,” Lincoln told POLITICO here on Van Buren’s rustic Main Street. “And I’ve been an independent voice. You’ve seen the Washington stuff; these people don’t see it. But I’m right there in the middle. I’m No. 50. I’ve stood up to my caucus on everything from EPA to cap and trade to estate tax. That’s a critical part of the message I’ve got to get out.”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1010/43435.html#ixzz128SKFo3z.