U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., easily won re-election Tuesday, while U.S. Reps. Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman were well ahead in their re-election efforts. The Associated Press called the race for Cotton not long after the polls closed at 7:30 p.m.
Cotton was leading with 66% of the vote facing only Libertarian candidate Ricky Dale Harrington. At 9:30 p.m., Cotton had 437,000 votes while Harrington had 223,000.
Republican incumbents were also enjoying big leads in the 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts. In the 3rd District representing Northwest Arkansas, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, was leading with 67% of the vote. Democrat Celeste Williams had 30%, while Libertarian Michael Kalagias had 4%. Twenty percent of areas were reporting.
In the sprawling, heavily rural 4th District covering much of southern and western Arkansas, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, was leading with 73% of the vote. Democrat William Hanson had 24%, while Libertarian Frank Gilbert had 3%. Thirty-nine percent of the areas were reporting.
The outcome of the U.S. Senate race was never in doubt. Cotton had amassed a war chest of more than $12.2 million as of Oct. 14, 2020, but he didn’t need to spend it in Arkansas or even campaign much here. The only Democratic Party candidate, Josh Mahony, dropped out of the race after the filing period closed, leaving only Harrington, whom Cotton ignored. Cotton campaigned for Republican Senate candidates in other states and skipped a televised debate with Harrington on Arkansas PBS, giving Harrington the full hour of airtime by himself.
Cotton is widely considered a potential Republican candidate for president in 2024. Harrington, who had raised a little more than $68,000 by Oct. 14, in October released a poll funded by his campaign that showed him trailing Cotton by a relatively close 49%-38%.
But later polls by independent organizations told a different story. A poll released Oct. 19 by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College found Cotton leading, 62.5% to 27.5% with 10% undecided. The annual Arkansas poll by University of Arkansas political science professor Dr. Janine Perry showed Cotton with an even bigger lead of 75%-20%.
In the 1st District covering eastern and northern Arkansas, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, did not face opposition.