Alexander’s Challenger Wasn’t On Track To Unseat Him, At Least Before Chief Of Staff’s Trouble

Vanderbilt's poll shows Alexander enjoying 57 percent approval from Republicans, although he's less popular among the subset of Tea Party conservatives his challenger, Joe Carr, would like to court in next year's primary. (Credit Vanderbilt Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions)

Vanderbilt’s poll shows Alexander enjoying 57 percent approval from Republicans, although he’s less popular among the subset of Tea Party conservatives his challenger, Joe Carr, would like to court in next year’s primary. (Credit Vanderbilt Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions)

It’s not clear how Lamar Alexander’s bid for reelection next year will be affected by revelations his chief of staff is under investigation for child pornography.

A Vanderbilt poll taken just before the news broke showed Alexander with a statewide approval rating of 49 percent.

The poll showed Alexander with solid support among Republicans, albeit a ways behind the popular Governor Bill Haslam and also fellow Senator Bob Corker.  Still, Alexander’s primary challenger, Joe Carr, seemed to be struggling to capitalize, with just a quarter of Tennesseans recognizing his name.

Political scientist Josh Clinton:

The poll shows Alexander's primary opponent Joe Carr struggling for name recognition and approval.  Here Carr is stacked up against the head of Vandy football, as well as country star Carrie Underwood. (Credit Vanderbilt Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions)

The poll shows Alexander’s primary opponent Joe Carr struggling for name recognition and approval. Here, Carr is stacked up against the head of Vandy football, as well as country star Carrie Underwood. (Credit Vanderbilt Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions)

“If you have a good challenger, who can make and highlight the faults or perceived faults of the incumbent, then you can make things interesting.  Now, whether or not Joe Carr has those characteristics and can attract outside donors, given his low level of awareness and approval, that’s hard to see at this point.”

Again, that’s based on phone calls made before the news Alexander’s chief of staff was under investigation.  Asked how it might shake up the race, another political scientist simply said “it’s a serious, serious thing, and the process has to work out.”

Peruse more from Vanderbilt’s poll here.

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