State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) is gaining on Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranSenate bracing for possible long weekend All eyes on Paul with shutdown looming Cochran delivers farewell Senate address MORE (R-Miss.) in a new survey, but the incumbent still has a solid lead ahead of the June primary. 

The poll, conducted by automated telephone survey by Republican firm Harper Polling, shows Cochran taking 52 percent support to McDaniel’s 35 percent support among likely GOP primary voters.

That’s an improvement for McDaniel from Harper’s last survey of the race, in mid-December, when Cochran had a 24-point lead over McDaniel.

And the poll indicates conservative support is coalescing behind McDaniel, who now has an 18-point lead with Tea Party voters, after just tying them in December, and is about even with Cochran among voters who identify as “very conservative,” where Cochran led him by 11 points in December.

But as voters have learned more about McDaniel, it appears they don’t like what they’re hearing. He once was seen favorably by nearly twice as many people, 33 percent, as viewed him unfavorably. Now, he’s split voters more evenly, with 37 percent viewing him favorably and 31 percent unfavorably.

That’s likely due to the negative attacks Cochran and a group supporting him in the race have launched. But the survey indicates Cochran has also taken a hit from a barrage of attacks from conservative groups.

While he was seen favorably by 64 percent and unfavorably by 28 percent of respondents in December, that’s down to 59 percent favorable and 30 percent unfavorable in this new poll.

The survey was conducted among 570 likely GOP primary voters from April 3-5 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.