Dem Poll Shows Tea Partier Inching Ahead Of Sen. Cochran

A new poll by Democratic pollster Chism Strategies has found state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-MS) just barely leading Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in the Mississippi Republican Senate primary.

The new poll, obtained by TPM from a Democratic operative, found McDaniel leading Cochran, 46 percent to 44 percent among 813 likely Republican primary voters. Another 7.9 percent said they were undecided and a tiny 1.4 percent said they would vote for Republican Thomas Carey, who’s also running in the primary. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Chism Strategies has done polling for former Rep. Travis Childers (D-MS), the expected Democratic nominee in the Senate race.

The poll’s findings conflict with GOP pollster Harper Polling’s latest poll on the race which showed Cochran leading McDaniel 45 percent to 40 percent.

Those polls are a rare pair of surveys that have come out since news broke that a pro-McDaniel political blogger was arrested for photographing Cochran’s wife for an anti-Cochran video. McDaniel has been hit by a wave of questions about that break-in and any possible links his campaign has to the blogger, and the district attorney has said no one, including anyone from the McDaniel campaign, has yet been cleared in the investigation.

According to the Chism Strategies memo accompanying the poll, McDaniel has been able to recover from the drop he suffered in the immediate aftermath of news of the scandal.

“McDaniel’s numbers have recovered after the initial drop in the wake of the arrests of campaign supporters,” the memo said.

Moreover, just 17 percent of undecideds said they were much less likely to support McDaniel because of the ongoing story about political blogger “Constitutional” Clayton Kelly. An equal number said they were somewhat less likely and a whopping 67 percent said the story had no impact on their support of McDaniel.

Chism Strategies also cautioned that right now the race is too close to call. The primary will take place on June 3.

Correction: This post originally said Chism Strategies is former Rep. Travis Childers’ pollster. Chism has done work for Childers but is not his pollster. We regret the error.

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