Poll: Miss. Sen. Cochran leads Tea Party foe by double digits

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) leads his Tea Party rival by a double-digit margin, according to a new poll from GOP company Harper Polling.

Cochran leads Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) 54 percent to 31 percent in a head-to-head primary match-up, a strong but not insurmountable lead for the longtime senator.

That lead is driven largely by Cochran's high name identification. His approval rating with Republicans sits at 64 percent with 28 percent disapproving, while McDaniel's sits at 33 percent approving, 17 percent disapproving and fully half of GOP voters without an opinion.

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That's likely to change: McDaniel has the backing of a number of well-funded conservative groups including the Club for Growth, and will likely have the resources to give Cochran his biggest test since his first election more than three decades ago.

The poll finds a strikingly different result from a poll conducted by Gravis Marketing that was released last week. In that poll, Cochran and McDaniel were tied.

Harper conducted an automated poll of 710 likely Republican voters from Dec. 17-18. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.68 percent.