U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R) has won the race for U.S. Senate, elected to serve a second term in Washington.
Similar to Cotton’s first senatorial bid in 2014, the Associated Press called the election in his favor shortly after polls closed on Tuesday. He was first sworn into Congress on Jan. 6, 2015, after defeating then-incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D) by a margin of 56 to 39 percent.
While the result of his re-election campaign remained the same, this cycle proved to be rife with irregularity. There was no Democratic challenger to be found alongside Cotton on the statewide ballot this time around, as the party’s only candidate, Josh Mahony, conspicuously dropped out of the race hours after the filing deadline in November 2019. This left the third-party candidate, Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. (L), as Cotton’s only opponent, who the senator declined to debate in October.
Margins fluctuated wildly in the weeks preceding Nov. 3. An early-October poll conducted by American Research Group was the best it ever appeared for Harrington, listing the Libertarian within 11 points of Cotton — setting him up with the chance to receive the highest voter percentage of any candidate in the party’s history.
More polling arrived over the course of October that set the stage for a more expected outcome, with a Hendrix College poll showing Cotton 35 points ahead and a University of Arkansas poll displaying a 55 point advantage for the senator. FiveThirtyEight’s election model listed Cotton as the most likely candidate to win a U.S. Senate race in the entire country.
Cotton’s anticipated win Tuesday will likely spur more presumption concerning the next presidential election in 2024. Cotton has long been posed as a likely Republican candidate for president by both pundits and supporters alike, and the next cycle is sure to pit a broad field of candidates vying for the party’s ticket in the primary.
At the end of October, Cotton did not shed much light on those rumors in an interview with Arkansas Money & Politics.
“Future elections will come in due time, but for now the people of Arkansas are focused on this election, as am I,” he said.
The next time Arkansas voters weigh in on the U.S. Senate will be in November 2022 when Sen. John Boozman’s seat is up for reelection.