PPP's new Mississippi Senate poll finds Thad Cochran in serious danger of losing the Republican primary if he seeks another term next year. 55% of GOP primary voters say they would prefer a 'more conservative' alternative to Cochran, compared to just 35% who say they support the long time Senator. And although Cochran still leads primary challenger Chris McDaniel 44/38, much of that lead is attributable to his higher name recognition. Among the 50% of primary voters who have heard of McDaniel, whether they like him or not, Cochran trails his challenger 60/29.
Cochran's approval numbers with Republican voters have dropped precipitously over the last two years. In November of 2011 we found him with a 74/14 approval spread with them, but that's declined now to 45/42. Unsurprisingly Cochran's problems are coming with the furthest right segment of his party. Among voters describing themselves as 'very conservative' he has just a 34/55 approval spread, trails McDaniel 51/32 head to head, and loses out to a generic 'more conservative' alternative 74/22.
If Cochran is the Republican nominee for the Senate next year the seat likely won't be competitive. He actually has a positive approval rating with Democrats at 44/40 and that crossover support would make him close to unbeatable in a general election. He leads Travis Childers, who has actually floated the possibility of running, 50/33 in a head to head. He's also up 50/37 on Ronnie Musgrove and 45/43 on Jim Hood in hypothetical contests.
If McDaniel is the Republican nominee though it looks like there's at least some chance at a competitive race forming. He leads both Childers (41/38) and Musgrove (44/41) by just 3 points in head to heads and actually trails Hood by a couple points at 43/41. McDaniel just doesn't have the same kind of support across party lines that Cochran does.
Hosemann would make the stronger general election candidate than McDaniel in the case of a Cochran retirement. He leads Childers 46/36 and Musgrove 46/38 in head to heads, while it's close with Hood at 42/41.
Cochran's path to renomination looks difficult based on these numbers. Mississippi is an uphill battle for Democrats even without the drop off in black turnout you usually see in a midterm electorate, but they may have some chance at being competitive if Republicans nominate someone conservative enough.
Full results here