BRYANT, Ark. — That Democrats are in trouble is hardly news these days, at least in most places.
But Democrats in Arkansas, who have long dominated state and local offices despite the state’s essentially conservative electorate, have not been in this much trouble for as long as anyone can remember, at least anyone who was not around during Reconstruction.
“It is a very big deal,” said Rex Nelson, who was a press secretary for Gov. Mike Huckabee and political editor of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “This has never happened, not in my lifetime.”
The Democrats’ trouble runs from top to bottom. In poll after poll, Blanche Lincoln, the senior senator, is trailing her Republican challenger, John Boozman, the state’s lone Republican congressman.
The Democrat running for Congress in the central part of the state, in a district that has been in the party’s hands for 92 of the last 100 years, is also running far behind, and there is a better than even chance that a Republican could take the First Congressional District, in the northeastern part of the state, too, making him the first Republican in that seat since 1875.
The state legislature, while it will remain in Democratic control, could have the largest number of Republicans ever. Even the ho-hum races for offices like lieutenant governor and land commissioner appear to be tossups.