Dem polls show Landrieu, Hagan, Pryor in tight races against Republicans

A new wave of polling from a Democratic firm released this week shows three Southern Democratic senators running for reelection in red states in close competition against Republicans, offering a glimpse at the how competitive the battle for the Senate is right now.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) appears to be the worst off. She trails Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) by 46 percent to 42 percent among those likeliest to vote, a difference that is inside the margin of error.

The polling was conducted Feb. 17-24 by Democratic pollster Hickman Analytics and sponsored by the Consumer Energy Alliance, a group that advocates for building the Keystone XL pipeline. The poll dialed landlines and cellphones. The surveys in each state dialed about 400 likely voters on landlines and cellphones, each with an error margin of 5 percentage points.

Hickman also polled the Senate races in North Carolina and Arkansas. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.)  is running about even with Republican challenger Thom Tillis at 45 percent to 41 percent, a lead inside the margin of error. In Arkansas, Sen. Mark Pryor (D) is neck and neck with Rep. Tom Cotton, 40 percent to 37 percent in a field with three other candidates who don't belong to the two major parties. One of the candidates is an independent who did not file for office. In a head to head matchup, Cotton and Pyror are tied at 46 percent.

President Obama's image is struggling in all three states, illustrating why Republicans are eager to tie the Democratic incumbents to the White House at every turn. It's worst in Arkansas, where 65 percent of voters say they hold an unfavorable view of the president.

Republicans need to pick up six seats to win back the Senate. Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and Alaska are four of their best pickup opportunities. Their outlook is even better in three open races for seats currently held by Democrats: West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana. The GOP is defending seats in Kentucky and Georgia that Democrats have put in play.

Leading Democratic pollster Mark Mellman took to Twitter to point out some peculiarities in the Hickman polling, including the order of questions.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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