A new poll released by Tennesseans for Conservative Action (TCA) shows that the Republican race for the party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2018 is still wide open.
“Our findings show that, among Republicans who plan to vote in the 2018 GOP Primary, President Trump remains wildly popular and the 2018 governor’s race is wide open with a majority still unsure who they will vote for,” a member of the TCA leadership team tells The Tennessee Star.
TCA “surveyed 822 Tennesseans on the evenings of August 28 and August 29, 2017 who self-identified as likely to vote in the August 2018 Republican primary. The margin of error is +/- 3.42%,” according to its website.
The TCA poll showed that 82.3 percent of likely Republican primary voters approved of President Trump’s job performance. The result was remarkably consistent with President Trump’s 86 percent job approval rating as reported in the Tennessee Star Poll conducted in early June.
The head-to-head match up of six declared candidates shows a remarkable 57.4 percent of likely Tennessee Republican primary voters are still undecided in the governor’s race. Those results were virtually unchanged from the Tennessee Star Poll conducted three months earlier during the first week of June, which showed that 60 percent of likely Republican primary voters were undecided.
Representative Diane Black (R-TN-06) has the support of 13.9 percent of likely Republican primary voters, followed by Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd with 11.6 percent, Speaker of the Tennessee House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) with 7.4 percent, former State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet) with 5.6 percent, Williamson County businessman Bill Lee with 3.3 percent, and Johnson City realtor Kay White with less than one percent (0.7 percent).
Given the poll’s 3.42 percent margin of error, three of the top five candidates–Black, Boyd, and Harwell– were in a statistical tie for first, while Beavers and Lee were just a few points behind.
As it stands now, eleven months before the August 2018, any of the top five candidates – Black, Boyd, Harwell, Beavers, and Lee – are positioned to emerge as the front runner should their campaigns catch fire with a specific issue or compelling marketing program.
In the Tennessee Star Poll conducted in June, Diane Black had 9.9 percent of the vote, Randy Boyd had 8.1 percent, Beth Harwell had 4.3 percent, Bill Lee had 4.1 percent, and Mae Beavers had 3.9 percent.
Changes in support among all of the top five candidates in the intervening three months have been minimal, and none has been able to break out of the pack:
Diane Black improved by 4 percent, Randy Boyd improved by 3.5 percent, Beth Harwell improved by 3.1 percent, Mae Beavers improved by 1.7 percent, and Bill Lee slipped by a little less than 1 percent.
While Black, Boyd, Harwell, and Lee have all raised substantial financial resources, to date, those resources have not been deployed in a way that has moved the needle on voter preferences or enabled them to persuade any of the majority of voters who are undecided.
Beavers, who has limited financial resources but a loyal following among the most conservatives of Tennessee Republican primary voters, has been able to hold her own and even gain a few points against her better financed opponents. Lacking the kind of financial resources of her opponents, however, it remains to be seen how Beavers will be able to reach enough undecided Republican primary voters to bring them into her camp.
President Trump’s approval ratings and voter preferences in the Republican gubernatorial primary were not the only issues addressed in the TCA Poll.
“On the issues, those surveyed are near unanimous that they want government to get out of the way and allow businesses to decide when they are open and closed, support education savings accounts, and believe wine in grocery stores has been a good thing for Tennessee,” the TCA leader adds.
Here’s a summary of the TCA Poll results on four other important state issues:
Our findings indicate that 50% voters support education savings accounts and 14.4% oppose them. Both sides have work to do to inform Tennesseans on the issue as 34.5% need more information or are unsure on the policy.
Our findings indicate that an overwhelming 82.6% of voters want government to get out of the way and allow Tennessee businesses to decide when to be open or closed, versus 5.7% who believe government has a role to play deciding when businesses should be open or closed.
Our findings indicate that 24% of voters know someone who is struggling with opioid addiction. Our findings also indicate that voters who have a personal connection to opioid addiction hold the prescribers most responsible (46%), followed by manufacturers (13%). Pharmacies (3%), distributors (1%) and local government (5%) together are held responsible by less than 10% of those surveyed who are connected to the crisis.
WINE IN GROCERY STORES
Our findings indicate that only 18.2% of voters believe wine in grocery stores has been a bad thing for Tennessee.