* Republicans leads her 53 percent to 39 percent
* Lincoln improving in some areas
* Democrat leads governor's race
(Adds details, quotes)
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON, Sept 22 Democratic Senator Blanche
Lincoln of Arkansas, a key player in U.S. financial regulation
legislation, remains far behind in an uphill battle for
re-election on Nov. 2, a Reuters-Ipsos poll found on
Republican John Boozman, a member of the U.S. House of
Representatives, holds a hefty 14-point lead among likely
voters of 53 percent to 39 percent for Lincoln.
It is only a slight improvement for the Democrat since a
July poll had her behind by a 54 percent to 35 percent margin,
and it is the latest evidence that Lincoln is suffering from
the same anti-incumbency wave that other politicians are
grappling with in this volatile year of high unemployment.
"At this moment, Boozman is the pretty easy winner," said
Ipsos pollster Julia Clark. "Lincoln is certainly fighting for
her political life."
But the poll found some glimmers of hope for Lincoln with
six weeks to go until congressional elections in which
Republicans are expected to make a comeback after devastating
losses in 2006 and 2008. All 435 House of Representatives seats
and about one-third of U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs.
Lincoln has seen a 10-percentage point improvement since
mid-July in being seen as someone who will "fight for Main
Street over Wall Street," while Boozman has seen a drop of 4
Reuters Midterm elections link.reuters.com/zyr86n
Reuters/Ipsos polls link.reuters.com/vyr86n
A farmer's daughter, Lincoln authored a tough provision in
the financial overhaul that U.S. President Barack Obama signed
into law in July. The reform sharply limits Wall Street firms'
involvement in the trading of some complex derivatives, which
worsened the 2007-2009 financial crisis and led to a $182
billion taxpayer bailout of the insurance firm AIG.
Worried about the high unemployment rate, voters look
likely to punish Obama's Democrats at the election. Republicans
are set to win the House of Representatives, although the
Senate should stay in Democrats' hands, Ipsos pollster Cliff
Young says. To challenge Democratic control in the Senate,
Republicans need 10 seats, including that of Lincoln.
Republicans will try to reverse some of the Wall Street
crackdown and Obama's healthcare reform if they win big in
November. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander blamed the
overhauls for stifling business sentiment.
"You have job creators hiding in their closets wondering
what the next thing the administration's going to do that makes
it harder for them to create new jobs," Alexander told the
Reuters Washington Summit on Wednesday.
SOME HOPE FOR LINCOLN
In Arkansas, Lincoln is now seen as less likely to "say
anything to win votes" compared to the last poll, down to 40
percent who believe this compared to 48 percent in July.
Boozman has gone up in this measure from 18 percent to 26
And Lincoln has gone up 4 percentage points to 38 percent
on being seen as a "strong leader for Arkansas" and Boozman's
ratings on this have dropped from 51 percent to 43 percent.
Clark said it appears that campaigning by former President
Bill Clinton, a former governor of Arkansas, is paying off for
"Public opinion is moving a little in her favor," said
Clark. "She's seen in a more positive light. It's not
translating yet into real success at the ballot box. But it
does intrigue me because we've got a ways to go until the
The poll found that 18 percent of registered Arkansas
voters believe Clinton's campaigning for Lincoln has made them
more likely to vote for her. On the other hand, 22 percent said
it made them less likely to vote for her, and 59 percent said
it made no difference.
While Lincoln struggles, Arkansas' Democratic governor,
Mike Beebe, is coasting toward re-election, holding a 55
percent to 37 percent lead over Republican candidate Jim Keet.
Arkansas, with an economy heavy reliant on farming, has
weathered the U.S. recession better than some states, providing
some benefit to Beebe. Still, the poll found the economy is
still the biggest problem facing the state, cited by 57 percent
Between Sept. 17 and 19, Ipsos interviewed 600 Arkansas
registered voters, 436 of whom said they are likely to vote on
Nov. 2. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4
percentage points for registered voters and 4.7 points for