It’s been the most remarkably enduring story line of Election 2014: three Democratic senators defying their states’ deep red complexion and their president’s abysmal approval ratings to stay competitive in races that should have, on paper, been lost long ago. The question all along has been, Could it possibly last?
Now, a month out from the election, Republicans are seeing subtle but perceptible signs that contests in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana — all three pivotal in the battle for the Senate — are finally breaking their way.
In Alaska, the conservative base has rallied behind Republican Dan Sullivan after a contentious August primary, and Democratic Sen. Mark Begich was stung by backlash over an attack ad he later decided to pull. In Louisiana, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu has been hammered over revelations that she improperly charged taxpayers for charter flights. And in Arkansas, Republican Rep. Tom Cotton — who’s been knocked as robotic on the stump, especially compared to his backslapping opponent, incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor — has improved noticeably in that department.