FRANKLIN, Tennessee – A new poll released by The Tennessee Star conducted by Triton Polling and Research of 1,007 likely Tennessee Republican primary voters shows that the party’s nomination for governor in 2018 is wide open, as no announced or likely candidate has the support of more than 10 percent of likely voters. More than 60 percent are undecided.
When asked “If the election was held today, who would you vote for governor of Tennessee,” and given seven possible candidates–State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) Congresswoman Diane Black, Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd, State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville), Speaker of the Tennessee House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), Williamson County businessman Bill Lee, and State Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville)–the likely Tennessee Republican primary voters surveyed in the poll responded as follows:
60.9% — Don’t Know Undecided
9.9% — Diane Black
8.1% — Randy Boyd
6.3% — Mark Green
4.3% — Beth Harwell
4.1% — Bill Lee
3.9% — Mae Beavers
2.5% — Mark Norris
Since the poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percent, six of the seven candidates included in the poll are in a virtual tie for the lead.
Mark Norris is the only candidate not in the statistical tie, but he is barely below the range of support found among the other six candidates polled.
The poll began before Mark Green withdrew from the race. His announcement came midway through the poll.
“Several things jump off the page when looking at the poll numbers for the governor’s race in the Tennessee Republican primary,” media consultant and political analyst Steve Gill tells The Star.
“First, it is wide open at this point with 60 percent of likely Republican voters up for grabs,” Gill says.
“The single digit support for each candidate also underlines the lack of name ID and awareness of each candidate. They all have pretty much a blank slate to define themselves and their opponents. Those with money who can do that sooner rather than later will have a significant advantage,” he adds.
But money is not the only factor that will play in the outcome of the August 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary.
“The ideological split among the candidates will be important, too,” Gill adds.
“With several candidates fighting over the same pool of conservative voters–even if it is a majority of likely conservative voters–Boyd has a relatively open lane in the moderate Republican pool,” Gill notes.
Boyd has specifically used the term “moderate” to describe himself, as The Star reported previously.
“But if one of the conservatives can successfully make the case that THEY are more in line with the conservative agenda, then one could emerge ahead of the pack,” Gill adds.
“Mae Beavers, because of issues, and Diane Black, because of resources, are the ones most likely to do that,” Gill says.
Voter intensity is likely to play a significant role in the outcome of the 2018 Tennessee Republican primary for governor.
The Star reported earlier on Tuesday that President Trump’s approval rating among Tennessee’s likely Republican primary voters is sky high: 86 percent approve of his job performance, while only 11 percent disapprove. Intensity of support for Trump is also very high among Tennessee’s likely Republican primary voters: 64 percent strongly approve of his job performance, while 22 percent somewhat approve.
“Voter intensity on key issues will have a huge impact on where voters ultimately end up,” Gill tells The Star.
“Right now we see high and intense support for Trump among Tennessee Republican voters. Depending on whether that support is maintained and how his key issues play out over the next year, the Trump factor may play a big role in several GOP primary races,” Gill concludes.
The Tennessee Star Poll also asked likely Republican primary voters about Senator Bob Corker’s 2018 re-election prospects as well as their views on three key issues expected to dominate the 2018 Gubernatorial campaign: repeal of the gas tax, in-state tuition for illegal aliens, and “Constitutional Carry.”
Those results will be released on Wednesday.
The poll, which was commissioned by The Tennessee Star and conducted by Triton Polling and Research in an automated (IVR) telephone survey of 1,007 likely Tennessee Republican Primary voters between May 31 and June 5, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.
You can read the gubernatorial head-to-head match up question from page 2 of the top line poll results, as well as pages 1, 4 and 5, here:
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