Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) has been dubbed the Republican incumbent “most likely to falter in the primary season” by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com.
The site’s Harry Enten notes that while most incumbent Republican senators face relatively weak primary challenges from tea party candidates, Cochran is a bit more vulnerable.
“Cochran was more moderate than 85 percent of the Republican caucus in the 112th Congress (2011-2012), according to DW-nominate scores, which use roll call votes to classify representatives and senators along a liberal-to-conservative spectrum,” Enten wrote. “Among Republicans running in 2014, only Sen. Susan Collins is to Cochran’s left, and Collins represents a far more liberal state, Maine.”
Cochran is facing a primary challenge by state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-MS), a tea party favorite who has the backing of a number of high-profile conservative outside groups including the Senate Conservatives Fund and Club for Growth, but has also been getting negative attention for his ties to white supremacist groups.
A recent poll by Anzalone Research commissioned by the Democratic Party found McDaniel leading Cochran 44 percent to 43 percent, within the survey’s margin of error. But another recent poll, by NSON Strategies, found Cochran leading McDaniel, 45 percent to 37 percent.