Today, Politico Pro (paywall) published the results of a poll from Public Opinion Strategies’ Glen Bolger, who was commissioned by the Roger Wicker campaign. The results of the 500 likely Republican voters had Wicker leading over a hypothetical candidacy from State Senator Chris McDaniel 55-30. It further reports that even among “Tea Party” identified voters that Wicker led that group 47-37.
Deeper in the poll, Wicker’s fav/unfav was 66/15. Although 78% of likely Republicans had heard of Chris McDaniel, his fav/unfav was 36/16.
This sets the backdrop for a hypothetical race. McDaniel’s potential challenge last time started on a much better footing only down -6 in November 2013 to a sitting U.S. Senator Thad Cochran.
Y’all Politics was granted exclusive access to the results of a different poll run in the last two weeks. It was conducted by a reputable southern research firm polling 500 likely Republican voters as well. Among other things tested in the poll, Wicker’s fav/unfav was 72/9. McDaniel’s fav/unfav was 36/13. In a hypothetical head-to-head, Wicker bested McDaniel 60/24.
Those two polls, conducted independently of each other, seem to paint a pretty clear picture of Wicker’s status at this point in time with Mississippi voters.
It’s the worst kept secret in Mississippi politics that McDaniel is at the very least trying to lay the ground work for a challenge. But there’s a limit to what you can on Facebook. He’s already had a misstep or two (including a pretty clumsy use of the confederate battle emblem portion of the Mississippi flag on a questionnaire). And other than McDaniel and a few hangers on from his 2014 campaign, there appears to be no real financial or political backing from anyone else out there in the political realm in Mississippi or beyond. There have been multiple reports of some push polling on McDaniel’s behalf against Wicker in recent weeks, not unlike what those on McDaniel’s behalf did in 2014.
I’m still on the record in saying that for lots of reasons, including the aforementioned polling, McDaniel would be a prohibitive longshot against Wicker in a Republican primary. I continue to think that McDaniel will not run. Wicker’s apparatus, his record, campaign work ethic and his basic retail politics are above average in every respect. After his winning stint as NRSC Chairman, it just doesn’t seem like any outside money would flow to McDaniel, or anyone else, to give oxygen to a challenge as it did in 2014.