Democratic Party

Arkansas Race Seen as Test of Democratic Party's Future in the South

Big changes in just a few years

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Twenty years ago, the notion of a Republican-controlled Arkansas was unthinkable. But as the state readies for 2014's hotly contested governor's race, Republicans have a shot at cementing their newfound dominance in the longtime southern Democratic stronghold.

With the campaign, Democrats are being forced to confront a tough question: Can they still win in the South?

The answer will come down to whether former Rep. Mike Ross, the Democratic establishment's gubernatorial candidate of choice, will be able to carve out his own brand as an Arkansas Democrat, or whether disaffection with the national party will be too strong for him to beat out former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, the Republican front-runner, and stem the tide of growing conservatism.