WASHINGTON — The Republican Party’s hold on Arkansas’ four congressional seats could be slipping, according to the latest polls taken by Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College.

WASHINGTON — The Republican Party’s hold on Arkansas’ four congressional seats could be slipping, according to the latest polls taken by Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College.


A survey of likely voters in the four congressional districts found Democrats within reach of taking back the 2nd District and 4th District seats that Republicans gained in the last two election cycles.


Democrat James Lee Witt and Republican Bruce Westerman are in a statistical dead heat in the 4th District, which comprises much of southern Arkansas. A survey of 607 likely voters conducted Wednesday and Thursday found Westerman leading, 44 to 42 percent, a lead that falls well within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It also represents a significant tightening of the race from July, when a similar survey found Westerman well ahead at 48 to 34 percent.


The race shows all the signs of being exceptionally close in the end, according to Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College.


While still trailing at this point, Witt has more funding for advertising in the stretch run giving him "a legitimate chance to pull the 4th District back into the Democratic fold," Barth said.


Republicans gained control of the seat in 2012 with the election of Tom Cotton. It had been held before that by Democrat Mike Ross, who retired. Cotton is running for U.S. Senate. Ross is running for governor.


A separate poll of 605 likely voters in the 2nd District found Democrat Patrick Henry Hays holding a 4.5 point lead over Republican French Hill as they battle for the central Arkansas seat that includes Little Rock and its suburbs.


The poll found Hays, a former North Little Rock mayor, favored by 46 percent, and French Hill, a Little Rock banker, favored by 41.5 percent. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4 percent. A similar survey in July had Hill leading 44 to 43 percent.


"A combination of effective positive ads by the Hays campaign and sharp attacks on Hill by Hays and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have pushed Hays into the lead," Barth said.


Republicans appear to have sewn up victories in the 1st and 3rd districts, according to Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College polls.


Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, holds a 22-point lead, 52 to 30 percent, over his Democratic opponent Jackie McPherson, among 437 likely voters surveyed Wednesday and Thursday in the 1st District, which includes much of eastern Arkansas. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.


"The 1st District has solidified for Crawford in part thanks to the power of incumbency and his fundraising advantage," said Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock.


Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, is also solidly ahead in the 3rd District in northwest Arkansas. Womack has no Democratic opponent and leads Libertarian candidate Grant Brand by a 45 point margin, 64 to 19 percent, among 426 likely voters surveyed Wednesday and Thursday.


The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.


More information on the four congressional polls can be found on the Internet at: http://talkbusiness.net/2014/10/crawford-on-cruise-control-hays-up-on-hill-in-second/ and http://talkbusiness.net/2014/10/westerman-witt-race-tightens-up-in-fourth-district/