Early action in the race for Arkansas Senate District 9 includes two voter surveys with vastly different results.
Arkansas Rep. Tracy Pennartz, D-Fort Smith, on Wednesday (Aug. 22) released a poll showing the race between her and Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Greenwood, a “statistical tie.”
The poll, conducted by Austin, Texas-based Stanford Campaigns, “reached” 1,111 likely voters. It showed 21% support for Pennartz, 23% for Holland and 56% undecided.
“This is a toss-up race in a swing district," said Jason Stanford.
Senate District 9 covers parts of southern Crawford County, east Fort Smith, and portions of Franklin, Scott and Sebastian Counties.
Pennartz, who is term limited in the Arkansas House of Representatives, said her campaign will capture a majority of the undecided voters by touting her legislative experience.
“We were pleased with the results ... and I think as more people get to know us and see our differences, we’ll be pleased with those (Nov. 6) results,” Pennartz told The City Wire.
The Stanford poll also indicated that among likely voters in the Senate district, 29% vote only for Democrats, 33% vote for Republicans and 38% would vote for a candidate from either party.
Compare the “statistical tie” of Pennartz’s poll results to those released in late July by Holland, in which the numbers gave him a more than 23-point lead over Pennartz.
Holland’s poll, conducted by Conway-based Diamond State Consulting, polled more than 400 likely voters in the district. Results from the likely voters gave Holland 54.8% approval, with Pennartz’s approval at 31.4%, and 13.8% unsure.
Updated info: Ted Thomas, with Diamond State Consulting, disputed the methodology of the Stanford poll by suggesting that Stanford did not attach party affiliation to the name of the candidate.
“Omitting party affiliation from a poll question is an easy way to distort the results of a poll. Review the questions from polls that are released to the public, including Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling, It is rare indeed that a candidate's party is omitted from ballot test poll questions,” Thomas explained.
Thomas also issued a “horn and hog” challenge to Stanford. If the election results are closer to the Stanford poll, Thomas will send a picture of himself wearing a Texas Longhorns hat to The City Wire. If the election results are closer to the Diamond State poll, Stanford would send a picture of himself wearing a Hog hat to The City Wire.Senate District 9 is one that Arkansas Democrats are hoping to capture to maintain their majority status in the Senate. The Arkansas legislature now has the smallest margin of Democratic rule since Reconstruction — almost 140 years ago. House Democrats outnumber Republicans 54-46, while the State Senate has a 20-15 Democratic advantage.
Arkansas Republicans believe they are in position to capture both houses in the 2012 election cycle. To gain 5 new seats in the House and just 3 in the Senate would give Republicans control of both chambers for the first time in modern political history.