Last month, I wrote about George Allen’s bid to retake the Senate seat he lost in 2006 to Democrat Jim Webb. Grass-roots conservatives, I said, could give Allen a serious challenge in the state’s Republican primary if they can manage to coalesce behind a single candidate.
In the aftermath, I heard plenty of grumbling from the Allen campaign and supporters who essentially said I had no idea what I was talking about. They were particularly incensed at the fact I quoted Jeff Frederick, the onetime head of the state Republican party, who was dismissed from that post amid accusations of “incompetence and mismanagement.”
They certainly have a point, according to the findings of a new Public Policy Polling survey, which my colleague Ben Pershing reported on yesterday.
“There are plenty of establishment Republicans who need to worry about primary challenges from the Tea Party next year but George Allen doesn’t appear to be one of them,” PPP’s Tom Jensen writes in a blog post.
A full two-thirds of Republican poll respondents prefer Allen as their Senate candidate; Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William), (who is not yet a declared candidate,) earned 7 percent; tea party activist leader Jamie Radtke earned 4 percent; and Hampton Roads lawyer David McCormick and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart (also not yet a candidate) each picked up 3 percent. The automated poll has a margin of error of 4.9 points.
“More telling,” Jensen writes, is that “only 25% of Republicans prefer a generic ‘more conservative’ challenge to Allen, while 52% stick with the former Senator.” That’s better than many other sitting GOP senators are doing on the same question.
Some caveats: None of Allen’s challengers have particularly high name recognition, and with the primary more than a year out, they have some time to improve that situation. And, I will add, the Senate primary, which will be held separately from the presidential primary, stands to draw a relatively conservative electorate.
“But all things considered the specter of a primary challenge to Allen just doesn’t look that serious,” Jensen writes.
And now I go to eat some crow.