According to Harper polling, released Monday, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran continues to lead his Republican primary challenger Chris McDaniel. Cochran leads McDaniel 52-35 percent, a net +7 percent gain for McDaniel since mid-December when it was found Cochran leading 54-31 percent.
The ideological construct of the race has shifted favorably for McDaniel. In December, Cochran and McDaniel were tied at 43-43 percent among tea party voters. Now, McDaniel leads 53-35 percent among tea party voters.
Among “very conservative” voters, Cochran previously led 49-38 percent. McDaniel now leads among this group 45-44 percent.
However, McDaniel’s image with voters is taking on water as it approaches a ratio of 1-to-1. In December, he had a net +16 percent image (33 percent favorable vs. 17 percent unfavorable). Now, McDaniel’s net image is +6 percent (37 percent favorable vs. 31 percent unfavorable).
Likewise, Cochran’s net image of +36 percent (64 percent favorable vs. 28 percent unfavorable) in December has declined to +29 percent (59percent favorable vs. 30percent unfavorable).
Military Spending & Earmarks
Voter opinion toward the debate over federal spending in Mississippi is in the eye of the beholder. When asked if they approve of increasing federal spending on the state’s military installations, 59percent of primary voters approve; 20 percent disapprove.
When asked if they approve of earmarks, 64 percent of primary voters disapprove; 21 percent approve. Among tea party voters, 74 percent disapprove of earmarks. However, 59 percent of tea party voters approve of increasing military spending in Mississippi.
The winner of this debate will be determined who does a better of framing the issue.
2016 Presidential Primary
In a hypothetical 2016 Republican Presidential primary ballot, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush leads with 29 percent of the vote, followed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Texas Senator Ted Cruz at 12 percent each.
This is the first 2016 ballot test in which Harper Polling has included Jeb Bush. In light of recent reports, the inclusion of Bush will be standard.
Bush leads among tea party voters (24 percent to 18 percent for Cruz), non-tea party voters (40 percent to 24 percent for Christie), “very conservative” voters (26 percent to 17 percent for Cruz) and “somewhat conservative” voters (36 percent to 17 percent for Christie).