by Max Brantley
-- Brian Chilson
It's now or never, primary election day in Arkansas.
I again implore the many fence-sitters to choose now between Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in the race for U.S. Senate. A vote for the third candidate only raises the chances of three more weeks of a torrent of dishonest advertising by outside forces. There'll be plenty of that in the fall. End it, don't extend it.
I still think the national press is off-base as viewing this race as a gauge of voter sentiment about the national condition. It's a gauge of sentiment about Blanche Lincoln, a likable politician with an actually decent overall voting record whose corporate leanings and spotty record of home visits have given her historically tepid approval ratings.
This is a Democratic primary. If she doesn't lead the ticket, THAT will be a sign of tsunami, sure enough. I've talked with several voters in the last three days, however, who, despite great misgivings, voted for the status quo. If you believe the best of her polls, and if 45 to 50 percent of the undecideds make a similar choice, she could barely edge over the 50 percent mark. If you believe the worst of the polling and the media talk, she'll top out at 45 percent, a perilous level for an incumbent in a runoff.
UPDATE: I now see that John Brummett has met some of the same kind of voters I've met -- traditional Democrats sticking with the devil they know -- and senses, too, the possibility she could win without a runoff. Her actions lately haven't made him any less sorry that he voted for Halter, however.