No state has switched party control as suddenly and totally as Arkansas. Before the 2010 election, Democrats held both Senate seats, three of the four House seats, the governorship, and both chambers of the state legislature. Republicans feared they were doomed to permanent minority status.
After the 2010 election, they stopped worrying. Republicans won all four House seats, and Republican John Boozman crushed incumbent Democratic senator Blanche Lincoln,
58 percent to 37 percent. Two years later, they took over the state legislature for the first time in 158 years. And Mitt Romney defeated President Obama in Arkansas, 61 percent to 37 percent.
But it was Republican success in down-ballot races that was most telling. In 2010, GOP candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and land commissioner were little-known, poorly funded, and expected to lose by roughly 60-40. To everyone’s surprise, they won narrowly, with 51 or 52 percent of the vote.
This meant “the Republican base vote” had become a majority in Arkansas elections, says Dan Greenberg, the president of the Advance Arkansas Institute, a Little Rock think tank. The Republican advantage appears to have grown since 2010 to 5 or 6 percentage points.