On Friday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – the duo dissected the recent Tennessee Star Triton poll numbers which show former Gov. Bill Haslam leads Rep. Mark Green (R-TN-07) by 9 points statewide among likely GOP primary voters in a potential 2020 Republican U.S. Senate primary matchup. Green, however, leads Haslam in the three Middle Tennessee Congressional districts.
Here is the transcript of that discussion:
Gill: We’ve been talking a little bit about the Tennessee Star Triton poll that we did over the last week. Friday through Monday. A thousand three likely Republican primary voters were polled. And the reason that we polled frankly likely Republicans is whether you are looking at issues that will be moved through or blocked in the state legislature. The Republicans have super majorities in the state House and the state Senate. What’s going to move those legislators to have concerns is going to be what do Republican primary voters think because that’s the only way most of these guys and ladies could get beat. Also when you look at the political reality in Tennessee, you’re not going to see Democrats getting elected statewide anytime in the near future. They ran their best candidates and the best-funded candidates they could have in a long time. And Phil Bredesen, Carl Dean got their hats handed to them. So we did our poll focused on likely Republican primary voters and we sample a large pool. Most of the polls you’re going to see whether it’s by Vanderbilt or Middle Tennessee State University or East Tennessee State. These university polls or The Tennessean polls. They’re only going to poll about four hundred, five hundred.
Leahy: They’ve all been bad by the way.
Leahy: They’re not at all good predictions. Our polls, done about a dozen of them in the past two years have been spot on.
Gill: And one of the reasons is because we poll so many people.
Leahy: We totally got the transit tax and it ended up being like 64-26. We had it at 62- 27 in our poll.
Gill: And we’ve had candidates during the last statewide elections both in the general election, we did some general election polling and primary polling. And our polls were spot on with the candidates. You know people share stuff with us.
Gill: The candidates, their poll numbers where they were spending $20000-30,000 and dig deep diving, and spending a lot of money. Our Tennessee Star Triton poll was right on the money.
Gill: And it didn’t cost as much. So one of the things we did ask about a couple policy issues.
Leahy: Before we get to that let me just get into the breakdown on the Middle Tennessee versus.
Gill: Yeah let’s get to that on Haslam in a minute. But we also asked about some policy issues. We’re going to have some more of those overnight so tomorrow you’ll also see where Tennessee stands or at least Tennessee Republican primary voters stand on a few other issues. The medical marijuana issue has been shelved until 2020. And we have a story up at Tennessee Star.com about medical marijuana. It is not the kiss of death for a republican that votes for medical marijuana.
It is not going to kill you n your next election if you make it clear the distinction between medical marijuana and pot. Medical marijuana versus recreational. And the problem with way that this issue has been pushed forward is the advocates who want to turn Tennessee into Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Spicolli and a pot haven like we’ve seen other states do. That is not going to play with Tennessee voters. Certainly not going to play with Republican primary voters. Medical marijuana, real medicine restricted and limited to real medicine will do fine. But they’ve not been able to separate themselves from the potheads.
If the medical marijuana folks will separate themselves from the potheads who simply want to get high, you can get this passed. But you’re going to have to message it and communicate it. And I think what this poll shows is if you do it properly, and it hadn’t been done properly, but even now people do have an affinity for medical marijuana they just don’t trust that that’s what it really is. And that’s a good reason to be skeptical because that’s not what it really is.
Leahy: So the person who should be listening to this broadcast today is state Senator Janice Bowling.
Gill: And Steve Dickerson and the others that support it. If you want to pass medical marijuana. If you want to help sick people then make sure you communicate how you’re going to prevent people who just want to get high from getting medical marijuana.
Leahy: This is great advice that we’re providing for free over the airwaves.
Gill: And they spend a lot of money paying people who’ve given them bad advice.
Leahy: Hey! Free advice here. Just follow our plan if you want success.
Gill: Now if Governor Haslam wants some good advice the advice should be “I wouldn’t run for the US Senate because no matter how much money you spend you’re going to have a hard time.” And we’ve got the numbers and again, if Bill Haslam and Mark Green face off head to head, right now statewide, Haslam would win 39 to 30percent.
Leahy: With a lot of undecideds.
Gill: About 30 percent undecided.
Leahy: And by the way, those undecideds, they know Bill Haslam. They don’t know Mark Green.
Gill: Well they really don’t know Bill Haslam because nobody in the media has really exposed the real Bill Haslam.
Leahy: And we will help correct that problem.
Gill: And in the campaign people will find out and know more. And keep in mind as we put it out yesterday in the Tennessee Star. Bill Haslam running for the US Senate in Tennessee as a never-Trumper who by the way is bringing in another never-Trumper, Ben Sass.
Raised money for him.
Gill: Raising money for him. So
Leahy: What’s the word you used to describe that (Chuckles)
Gill: Idiotic. So he’s doubling down on his never-Trump status in a state that Trump has a 78 percent approval rating. So who’s ever advising Bill Haslam…
Leahy: Not a good plan.
Gill: Not a good idea.
Leahy: But he thinks that two billion dollars of his own net worth is going to do him well.
Gill: And he could do well with that. He can maybe fool people into thinking he’s a Trump guy. I don’t think he’s going to be able to do it.
Leahy: Do you think he’s going to advertise in the Tennessee Star Report? I don’t think so.
Gill: He’s talking about being a Trump guy he better be reaching Trump voters convincing them he’s a Trump guy. And bringing Ben Sass never Trumper. “I think everyday about leaving the Republican party,” is not the guy to show that you’re pro-Trump. So anyway, Bill Haslam statewide would only slightly beat Mark Green. But when you look at where people know both Mark Green and Bill Haslam. Mark Green kicks his butt.
Leahy: He’s really stomping him. You know here in Tennessee we have nine congressional districts. There are three in middle Tennessee, the fourth the sixth and the seventh. And the seventh was represented by Marsha Blackburn for many years. And now, Mark Green won in the seventh district in November. If it were a head to head match up today, Mark Green versus Bill Haslam in the seventh district Mark Green would stomp him 49 percent to 28 percent.
Gill: And that’s the district that Mark Green currently represents in Congress.
Gill: Marsha Blackburn’s old district. And people got a chance to distinguish between a Marsha Blackburn as their congressman and now a senator. And they like her as a Senator because she’s well not Bob Corker and not Lamar Alexander.
Leahy: Exactly. Now in the fourth congressional district which is also middle Tennessee.
Gill: Scott DesJarlais district.
Leahy: Scott DeJarlais district. Mark Green would beat Bill Haslam 39 percent to 31 percent.
Gill: Again most people in the eastern part of that district don’t really know much about Mark Green.
Leahy: Yeah. And now in the sixth congressional district which was Diane Black’s old district. Now John Rose’s district who’s sort of rural counties directly east of Nashville and suburbs north, Mark Green would when 38 percent to 356 percent.
Gill: So again where they know Haslam and Green, Green’s doing pretty well.
Leahy: Now over in the first congressional district the far east of the state Bill Rowe represents, Haslams winning but not by much. 39 percent to 30percent like the rest of the state.
Gill: Again, where people don’t know much about Mark Green but 60 percent not willing to be for Bill Haslam.
Leahy: There’s only one district where he’s really doing well.
Gill: Second district, home town, Knoxville.
Leahy: Knoxville. He’s winning their hand only 59 percent to 15 percent. But everything else it looks a small margin for Haslam or a pretty big thumping for Mark Green.
Gill: And Knoxville in the second district that’s before people, and Knoxville is not as conservative as middle Tennessee.
Leahy: Oh no.
Gill: But there are conservatives there who don’t know anything about Mark Green at this point.
Gill: And given the choice of sending somebody to Washington who’s going to oppose President Trump or support President Trump on policies. Bill Haslam isn’t going to support President Trump. He’s a never-Trumper. He’s going to be a never-Trumper. He’s going to vote like Lamar and vote like Corker. And again when you look at the approval ratings of Corker and Lamar people know that. If you’re a pro-Trump voter, you know that Bill Haslam, like Corker and Alexander is not going to be somebody you can count on to stand with the President. And here’s the timeline that I think is important that people have to recognize. The August Republican primary to pick the nominee for the US Senate will be the first week in August. The Republican convention where Donald Trump will presumably be re-nominated with…
Leahy: Oh sure.
Gill: A lot of fanfare and enthusiasm and energy will be like three weeks later. So Bill Haslam if he runs, is going to be running right at a time when there’s going to be a lot of focus on Donald Trump and I don’t think that focus on Donald Trump is going to reflect well on Bill Haslam. It’s going to kind of shade Bill Haslam. And a guy like a Mark Green or a conservative who’s seen as tied to Trump could do pretty well.
Leahy: And he seems to be waiting quite a while before making an announcement. It seems to me.
Gill: Well he doesn’t need to make an announcement early because he can raise all his money at the anytime teller machine. (Leahy chuckles) He doesn’t need to have fundraisers. He just needs to say, “Daddy, can I have some more?” And billionaire Bill Haslam writes a bigger check. Mark Green is going to have to go out and raise ten to fifteen million dollars to be able to get his message out enough. Not to outspend Bill Haslam but to get it out. That’s the next challenge.
Leahy: Like the Bill Lee strategy. He got his message out enough.
Gill: And, it was just enough.
You can read the full poll results here:190416 Triton - TN Star Statewide Tennessee Survey - Topline Results
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