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Tuesday, May 16, 2006 

New Lt. Gov. Poll

In a Democratic primary for Arkansas lieutenant governor, Bill Halter wins comfortably, according to a SurveyUSA poll of 491 likely democratic primary voters conducted exclusively for Today's THV. The primary will be held Tuesday, May 23.

Halter gets 41 percent of the Democratic primary vote. Tim Wooldridge gets 20 percent. Mike Hathorn gets 14 percent. Jay Martin trails with 6 percent. And 20 percent of Democratic primary voters are undecided.

Since an identical Survey Arkansas poll five weeks ago, Halter has gained eight points, Wooldridge has gained five points, and Hathorn is unchanged.

In a Republican primary for Arkansas lieutenant governor, Jim Holt wins in a landslide, according to a an exclusive poll of 344 likely Republican primary voters.

Holt gets 57 percent of the Republican primary vote. Chuck Banks and Doug Matayo tie at 12 percent. And 19 percent are undecided. Holt is an Arkansas state senator who lost a statewide race to U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln in 2004.

Candidates in the lieutenant governor's race are battling for a large block of undecided voters. A fifth of the likely voters in the poll said they were undecided.

Democrat Tim Wooldridge appears to have the best chance of getting into a runoff with the poll's leader, Bill Halter. Those two candidates have made gains since the last poll five weeks ago.

According to the latest results, Wooldridge runs a stronger race against Halter outside Little Rock. Wooldridge will be counting on his northeast Arkansas base of support to help offset Halter's strength in central Arkansas.

The Democratic primary has featured a lawsuit challenging Halter's qualification to run. Halter has likely benefited from the publicity. Halter's fundraising success has also enabled him to outspend his opponents in television advertising, translating to success in the polls.

On the Republican side, the poll shows state Sen. Jim Holt is on track to win the nomination without a runoff. Holt has a solid lead at 57 percent, leading in every section of the state. Holt can hold his campaign war chest, skipping the runoffs and concentrating on the fall general election.

Concern among moderate Republicans is whether Holt can win the general election. His conservative base of support is strong, but he may be too conservative to attract independent voters in November. Efforts by opponents Chuck Banks and Doug Matayo to make that case have been unsuccessful so far, based on the latest poll results. (Today's THV)

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