Lee has 6-point advantage in new poll

Tennessee gubernatorial candidates talk education during SCORE event at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, January 23, 2018. (Photo credit: Belmont University)

Franklin businessman Bill Lee leads the contest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, according to a new poll. The JMC Analytics and Polling phone poll of 500 registered voters found 26% support for Lee, 20% for Randy Boyd, 19% for Diane Black, and 16% for Beth Harwell. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. Polling site FiveThirtyEight gives JMC at C-plus ranking.

Among the poll’s findings:

“When testing the favorability of the top four contenders, all have over 90% name recognition. Bill Lee’s numbers are the strongest (52-17% favorability ratio). Beth Harwell also has a respectable 39-18% favorability ratio. Randy Boyd’s favorability ratio is 39-31%, while Diane Black is “underwater” 45-30%.”

“In summary, Bill Lee has a lead (but not a secure one) in the primary race for Governor, while the remaining three major candidates are statistically neck and neck with a relatively low undecided percentage less than two weeks from the primary.”

Here are the full results:

POLLING METHODOLOGY

For this poll, a sample of likely households was chosen from the population registered to vote in the state of Tennessee for a “hybrid” automated (for landlines)/live (for cell phones) poll, where 79% of the phone numbers were landlines and 21% of the phone numbers were cell phones. There were 500 completed responses to 12 poll questions.

The survey was conducted July 18-21. The margin of error, with a 95% confidence interval, was 4.4%. The demographic breakdown of the respondents was 96-2% white/black (2% “other”), while the geographic breakdown of the respondents was as follows: 45% from eastern Tennessee, 37% from middle Tennessee, and 18% from western Tennessee (The explanation of the boundaries of these regions is graphically depicted in Exhibit A at the end of the poll analysis).

POLL RESULTS 

Question 1: Do you plan to vote in the August 2 Republican primary?

Yes 71%
No 17%
Undecided 13%

Question 2: (Only if “Yes” or “Undecided” is selected for Question #1) Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of President Donald Trump?

Approve 74%
Disapprove 16%
No Opinion 10%

Question 3: If the Republican primary for Governor were held today, which candidate would you support?

Lee 26%
Boyd 20%
Black 19%
Harwell 16%
Marceaux 1%
White <1%
Undecided 17%

Question 4: (Only if undecided selected for previous question) Given that you are undecided, which candidate are you leaning towards supporting?

Lee 27%
Boyd 23%
Black 21%
Harwell 18%
Marceaux 1%
White <1%
Undecided 11%

Question 5: Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Diane Black?

Favorable 30%
Unfavorable 45%
No Opinion 23%
Never Heard 2%

Question 6: Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Randy Boyd?

Favorable 39%
Unfavorable 31%
No Opinion 27%
Never Heard 3%

Question 7: Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Beth Harwell?

Favorable 39%
Unfavorable 18%
No Opinion 34%
Never Heard 9%

Question 8: Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Bill Lee?

Favorable 52%
Unfavorable 17%
No Opinion 27%
Never Heard 4%

Question 9: What type of Republican would you classify yourself as?

Trump Republican 36%
Traditional Republican 25%
Libertarian 9%
Social conservative 7%
TEA Partier 5%
Undecided 19%

Question 10: Would you describe yourself as an evangelical Christian?

Yes 69%
No 22%
Undecided 9%

Question 11: To ensure that our survey responses are most accurate, are you male or female?

Female                                                            52%

Male                                                                48%

 Question 12: And for demographic purposes, what is your age?

18-34 7%
35-54 24%
55-64 21%
65 years old or over 48%

SUMMARY

 JMC Analytics and Polling independently conducted this poll for the Tennessee Republican primary for Governor. There are two main takeaways from this poll: (1) Donald Trump remains popular among Tennessee Republicans, and (2) with the primary less than two weeks away (and as of yesterday, 160,653 have early voted in the Republican primary), Bill Lee leads in the race, and the other three major contenders are not far behind, although his “lead” is at the periphery of the margin of error, depending on whether undecided “leaners” are included.

Among Republicans, Donald Trump remains popular with overwhelming support across the board, although support is not so one-sided both among self-described “traditional Republicans” and those who do not describe themselves as Evangelical Christians.

In the Governor’s race, Bill Lee is currently out front, while Randy Boyd has a small lead over Diane Black for second place, although the point spread between Boyd, Black, or Harwell is not substantial. Lee has a fairly broad base of support, although self-described “Trump Republicans” favor Black over Boyd or Lee by an eight point margin if leaners are included. From a geographic and GOP factional perspective, Lee is (relatively speaking) the strongest in middle Tennessee; he narrowly leads in Eastern Tennessee and narrowly trails in Western Tennessee, although in each region, his lead/poll deficit is within the margin of error. This is a race with a respectable amount of voter engagement: 17% (11% if leaners are included) are undecided.

When testing the favorability of the top four contenders, all have over 90% name recognition. Bill Lee’s numbers are the strongest (52-17% favorability ratio). Beth Harwell also has a respectable 39-18% favorability ratio. Randy Boyd’s favorability ratio is 39-31%, while Diane Black is “underwater” 45-30%.

In summary, Bill Lee has a lead (but not a secure one) in the primary race for Governor, while the remaining three major candidates are statistically neck and neck with a relatively low undecided percentage less than two weeks from the primary.

 

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