Drawing from his $3.1 million campaign war chest, Sen. Lamar Alexander has hired the services of a top GOP polling firm to assess the status of his popularity among "likely Republican primary voters" in Tennessee.
According to the results, the senator can assume relative safety one year out from the 2014 primary race.
Alexander, who drew his first primary challenger in state Rep. Joe Carr last week, has an overall 69 percent job approval rating, according to findings from the poll.
The survey, conducted by Virginia-based North Star Opinion Research, sampled 600 likely Republican voters between Aug. 19 and 22. On Aug. 20, Carr announced he would drop his bid in the 4th District Republican primary to run against the two-time senator.
Although Alexander's campaign didn't reveal any specific polling methods or questions asked, the group sought to dismay any potential candidates who may still be mulling over a conservative challenge to the senator.
"The results show that Sen. Alexander remains a remarkably popular public official, while his announced and potential opponents are little-known or completely unknown to Tennessee Republican primary voters," a news release accompanying the poll numbers reads.
Along with Carr, pollsters asked participants to say who they would favor in hypothetical match-ups with figures whose names have been floated as possible candidates, including Tim Burchett, Knoxville mayor; Kevin Kookogey, former chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party; and Brenda Lenard, who waged an unsuccessful primary bid against Sen. Bob Corker last year. Alexander bested all candidates by a margin of 3-1 and pulled down a 64 percent mark of approval over Carr, who scored 23 percent in the poll.
The poll also showed 74 percent of voters describing themselves as "strong Republicans" approving of Alexander, while 57 percent of those identifying as "strong tea party supporters" said they would back the senator.
Despite Alexander's performance, the poll still surveys the electoral landscape roughly one year from the 2014 primary. During the 3rd District Republican primary in 2012, the same polling group showed former candidate Scottie Mayfield holding a comfortable lead months before his eventual loss to Rep. Chuck Fleischmann.
The Republican Senate primary is Aug. 7, 2014.
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