This story was updated Dec. 10, 2018, at 10:06 p.m. with more information.
NASHVILLE — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander's pollster says the Tennessee Republican is "in a strong position" to win the 2020 Senate GOP nomination as he weighs seeking a fourth term.
Alexander's longtime pollster, North Star Opinion Research President Whit Ayres, said in a Monday internal polling memo to the senator's campaign team that Alexander's favorability rating among likely Republican primary voters is 65 percent, just shy of two-thirds support.
Only 22 percent of those surveyed have an unfavorable view of Alexander, a former governor, U.S. secretary of education and current Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chairman.
The 600-person survey was conducted Nov. 26-29. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
Alexander, 78, has said he will decide by year's end whether he plans to seek re-election.
The survey also found Alexander's job performance was rated positively among "very conservative" Republicans at 64 percent to 27 percent. Among somewhat conservative and moderate Republicans, approval was 73-18.
Broken down by the state's three grand divisions, Alexander's job performance was rated at 67 to 24 percent support in West Tennessee, 65 to 25 percent in Middle Tennessee, and 72 to 18 percent in East Tennessee.
"Approval of Lamar Alexander's job performance as Senator extends across all ideological groups and all three Grand Divisions," wrote Ayres, later noting the senator is "in a strong position to win the Republican nomination for Senate should he decide to run again in 2020.
"He is very likely to win the general election as well given the strong Republican leanings of the state and his general election performance in the past," the pollster added.
Ayres noted that in 2014, Alexander won the general election with 62 percent of the vote over Democrat Gordon Ball. In 2008, he won with 65 percent over Democrat Bob Tuke.
The polling memo, addressed to Steve Smith, treasurer of the Alexander for Senate 2020 Committee, is being shared with Alexander supporters.
Unlike Tennessee's junior senator, Republican Bob Corker of Chattanooga, who didn't seek re-election this year amid public flare ups with President Donald Trump, Alexander has generally gotten along well, at least publicly, with the president.
After Alexander successfully spearheaded passage of legislation this year that aims to address different facets of the nation's opioid epidemic, Trump signed the bill into law and called it the "single largest bill to combat the drug crisis in the history of our country."
In 2014, Alexander was challenged in the GOP primary by then-state Rep. Joe Carr of Lascassas, a tea party-style hopeful, and Memphis businessman George Flinn, among others.
Alexander won with 50 percent of the vote, while Carr picked up 41 percent and Flinn got 5 percent.
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.