Decision 2018: Tennessee Governor GOP Primary Poll

Tennessee is a Southern state whose partisan divisions were once so predictable that ordinary citizens could recite them by heart (East Tennessee was Republican since the Civil War, Middle Tennessee was “Andrew Jackson Democratic”, and Western Tennessee was an extension of the Deep South (and, therefore, formerly Democratic)). Suburbanization around Nashville, combined with a general trend away from the Democrats in the South beginning with the Clinton Administration (it was newsworthy when former U.S. Senator Al Gore couldn’t carry his home state in the 2000 Presidential contest) and accelerating during the Obama Administration changed those partisan lines. Today, Tennessee is fairly solidly Republican, with Democratic strength generally limited to the core counties containing Nashville and Memphis.

Republicans have held the Governor’s chair since 2010, and its incumbent is term limited. There are four major Republican candidates in the race: Congresswoman Diane Black, businessman Randy Boyd, House Speaker Beth Harwell, and businessman Bill Lee.

The poll can be found here, and the main takeaways are as follows: (1) Donald Trump remains popular among Tennessee Republicans, and (2) with the primary less than two weeks away (and as of this past Friday, 179,504 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.