A new poll conducted among likely GOP voters in the Nashville suburbs of Brentwood and Franklin by Triton Polling shows good news for State House candidate Brandon Ogles and Gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee, along with some warning signs for Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn in her bid for the U.S. Senate. The survey of 361 likely Republican Primary voters was conducted June 18-22, 2018 and has a margin or error of 5.1%.
In the GOP primary race for Governor, the poll showed Williamson County native Bill Lee leading the field with 32.4% of the vote, followed by Diane Black with 21.3%, Randy Boyd with 16.1%, Beth Harwell with 14.9% and 15.4% undecided.
Other polling has indicated that Lee is seeing a recent surge in support in Middle Tennessee, where he, Black and Harwell all have a significant base of support. Many political observers believe that Lee’s gains come at the expense of Black, and may help Boyd in a statewide race due to his primary base of votes coming from East Tennessee, where he appears to have a significant lead over the other three candidates who all come from Middle Tennessee.
In the House primary race to fill the vacancy created by Rep. Charles Sargent’s retirement, Ogles has the support of 24.3% of likely GOP primary voters, followed by: Gino Bulso 13.9%, Rebecca Burke 9.4%, Jeff Ford 6.8%, Bobby Hullett 6.5%, Terrence Smith, 2.2% and the remaining 36.8% undecided.
With over a third of voters still undecided the race remains up for grabs, but in a divided field Ogles is a clear front runner at this point with early voting beginning in about three weeks.
In what may be the most surprising information contained in the poll data, Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn leads former Tennessee Governor and Democrat Phil Bredesen by a 61.3% to 30.1% margin, with only 8.6% undecided, in the race for the U.S. Senate. Blackburn has long represented Williamson County in the Tennessee State Senate and Congress, and resides in the 61st District herself.
Bredesen has been running television ads promoting his candidacy for several months, while Blackburn has not begun any ads for her own campaign. Nevertheless, the relatively small 30 point margin among likely GOP primary voters in a county as reliably Republican as Williamson County is sure to raise more red flags about the Blackburn-Bredesen matchup among state and national Republican Party activists.
One political observer noted that Blackburn is falling about 7 points short of the approval rating for President Donald Trump among Republicans in the Brentwood-Franklin legislative district. Trump recently campaign for Blackburn during a Nashville rally. However, Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill points out that Bredesen is getting about the same vote percentage among Republicans in the district that “disapprove” of Trump, 25%.
“The same anti-Trumpers who don’t like the President are not likely to support a candidate like Marsha who backs the President and who he has endorsed,” Gill says. “But lets remember that Trump won the general election race in Tennessee by about 30 points, so a lot of conservative democrats and independents in Tennessee have supported and still support President Trump. Blackburn needs to make it clear that Bredesen doesn’t and won’t support Trump on securing our border, cutting taxes, ending catch and release of illegal aliens, or confirming conservative Judges and Justices. The sooner she does that the better her numbers will look.”
In the upcoming weeks, The Tennessee Star will be releasing other polls from legislative districts across the state and a statewide GOP Primary survey of likely voters in the August 2 Primary. The complete top line survey for the 61st House district will be available in tomorrow’s Tennessee Star.