Fourth District Congressional candidate Beth Anne Rankin (R-Magnolia) is touting an internal poll that shows her with a big lead over her GOP rivals in name recognition and early voter support.

The results are not surprising considering Rankin was the Republican nominee in 2010 and her announced opponents have never run for public office. Rankin lost her race to retiring Rep. Mike Ross (D-Prescott) in November 2010 by a 58%-40% margin in a year when Republicans made historic gains in Arkansas.

Rankin’s poll, conducted by Dresner, Wickers, Barber, Sanders, surveyed 400 Fourth District voters likely to participate in the 2012 GOP primary. The poll was conducted on November 5-6, 2011.

Among those voters, Rankin has 80% total name recognition with 42% holding a favorable opinion of the candidate. Her campaign disclosed that Tom Cotton, who is also running for the GOP nomination, had a 32% name ID with 6% favorable.

“Undecided” would win the primary election if it were held today. Among the 400 voters polled, 54% were “not sure” or “refused” to say who they would support. Rankin received 40% support to 3% for Cotton, and 2% each for GOP candidates Marcus Richmond and John Cowart.

The internal poll also suggests Rankin performs well with Tea Party supporters and Christian conservatives.

“The results of this survey are further evidence that Beth Anne Rankin is well positioned to win the Republican primary for Congress next year,” a press release accompanying the limited poll results from Rankin’s campaign said.

The campaign didn’t release the polling instrument, but you can read the pollster’s memo at this link.

State Sen. Gene Jeffress is the only announced Democratic candidate in the race. Former State Rep. Bobby Tullis said he may run on the Libertarian ticket.

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