WASHINGTON — Two weeks ahead of Election Day, Republican challenger Tom Cotton is substantially ahead of Democrat Mark Pryor in Arkansas’ U.S. Senate race, according to the latest Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College Poll.

WASHINGTON — Two weeks ahead of Election Day, Republican challenger Tom Cotton is substantially ahead of Democrat Mark Pryor in Arkansas’ U.S. Senate race, according to the latest Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College Poll.


The statewide survey of 2,075 likely Arkansas voters found Cotton favored by 49 percent and Pryor favored by 40.5 percent. It was conducted Wednesday and Thursday after two U.S. Senate debates. Libertarian candidate Nathan LaFrance was favored by 2.5 percent and Green candidate Mark Swaney by 2 percent. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.


Cotton held a two-point lead in a similar survey conducted by Hendrix College in July.


The Arkansas Senate race has been among the most hotly contested in the nation as Republicans see an opportunity to gain the six seats needed to take control of the Senate. Cotton, a freshman member of the House, has received substantial backing from conservatives seeking to block Pryor from a third term in the Senate.


Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock said that the polling suggests Cotton "is poised to knock off" Pryor, barring any major disasters. However, he does expect the race will tighten in the homestretch given a massive get-out-the-vote effort that Democrats have made among newly registered voters.


"How big that impact will be is anyone’s guess. It’s complicated and nearly impossible to accurately poll that universe," Brock said.


Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, said that Cotton appears to have a substantial lead even after adjusting the poll for more minority, younger voters and cell phone users that would tend to favor Democrats. With all these shifts, Cotton still held a 7-point advantage, 48 percent to 41 percent, he said.


The Pryor campaign dismissed the poll results as an anomaly.


"We know where this race stands and this outlier of a poll doesn’t reflect Arkansans’ distrust of an ambitious politician like Congressman Cotton whose reckless loyalty to out-of-state billionaires comes at a cost for Arkansas seniors, students, women and working families," said Mary Robbins, Pryor campaign spokeswoman.


The Cotton campaign said the poll confirms that Arkansas voters are ready for a change.


"Arkansans are making it clear that they want a senator who won’t be a rubber stamp for President Obama 93 percent of the time. Voters are ready for a senator like Tom Cotton, who will fight to stop Obamacare, balance our budget and keep America safe and strong," said David Ray, Cotton campaign spokesman.


The poll can be found on the Internet at http://talkbusiness.net/2014/10/tbp-hendrix-poll-cotton-up-8-points-on-pryor-in-senate-race/