WSMV Poll Shows Haslam In The Lead For Republican Nomination

8:10 PM, Jul 8, 2010   |    comments
From the left, Zach Wamp , Mike McWherter, Bill Haslam and Ron Ramsey/The Tennessean
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A new poll shows high interest -- and a large number of undecided voters -- for Tennessee's upcoming Gubernatorial primary.

The exclusive WSMV-TV Channel 4 News poll found that 89 percent of those surveyed were likely to vote in the primary. But only a week before early voting, the number of likely voters who called themselves "undecided" was larger than the number who named any one candidate.

Among those voters who did support a candidate, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam currently holds the lead for the Republican nomination. 32 percent of respondents said they intend to vote for Haslam. 21 percent of those surveyed said they plan to vote for Congressman Zach Wamp. Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey was the choice among 11 percent of respondents. A larger number, 36 percent of those surveyed, said they were still undecided.

The telephone survey involved a random sample of 603 registered Tennessee voters. It was conducted earlier this week by the research firm Crawford, Johnson and Northcott. The margin of error is +/- 4%

Both Democrats and Republicans were polled because Tennessee allows voters of any affiliation to participate in one primary. Mike McWherter is the lone Democrat in the race.

Regardless of their intention to vote in the primary election, every respondent was asked who they would be most likely to choose in a general election match-up with Democrat Mike McWherter.

-In a Haslam-McWherter match-up, 60 percent of respondents chose Haslam, with 34 percent choosing McWherter and 6 percent undecided.

-In a Wamp-McWherter race, 59 percent of those surveyed chose Wamp, compared to 35 percent for McWherter and 6 percent undecided.

-In a Ramsey-McWherter race, 51 percent of those polled chose Ramsey, with 41 percent choosing McWherter, and 8 percent undecided.

In context, those numbers could reflect the fact that the Republican candidates have so far campaigned far more visibly than the Democrat, who is unopposed in the primary.

Nearly nine in ten voters polled said they were like to vote in the primary election. 73 percent said they were very likely, 16 percent said they were somewhat likely. 7 percent described themselves as not very likely, and 5 percent said they did not intend to vote.

The Republican primary is drawing some attention among some Democrats and many independents. Of Democrats polled, nearly one in ten indicated they intend to vote in the Republican primary. Among independents, 63 percent said they'll vote in the Republican primary.

Check out the full poll results below:

In the race for Tennessee Governor, how likely are you to vote in the primary election on August 5th?

Very likely 73%
Somewhat likely 16%
Not very likely 7%
Do not intend to vote in the primary 5%

If you do vote, and since you can vote in only one party's primary election, which one will you vote in?

Republican primary 64%
Democratic primary 36%

Which one of these candidates do you intend to vote for in the Republican primary?
Undecided 36%
Bill Haslam 32%
Zach Wamp 21%
Ronald Ramsey 11%

Regardless of their intention to vote in the primary election, every respondent was asked who they would be most likely to vote for in the general election.

Given these different match-ups, who would you most likely vote for in November to become Tennessee's governor?

Matchup #1

Haslam 60%

McWherter 34%

Undecided 6%


Matchup #2

Ramsey 51%

McWherter 41%

Undecided 8%


Matchup #3

Wamp 59%

McWherter 35%

Undecided 6%


Do you generally consider yourself to be a:

Republican 42%

Democrat 29%

Independent 29%



Campaigns react

Below are the responses issued by the campaigns in the order received:

Haslam campaign press release

An independent poll commissioned by WSMV, NBC's Nashville affiliate, shows Republican gubernatorial candidate and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam with a commanding lead over his closest competitor just eight days out from the start of Early Voting on July 16.

The only poll that matters is on Election Day, but this independent poll fundamentally confirms the Haslam campaign's own numbers, showing Haslam as the man on the move while both of his primary opponents have been flat from the beginning.

The poll shows Haslam leading the Republican Primary for Tennessee Governor with 32 percent of the vote while running a positive campaign focused on the issues most important to Tennesseans: jobs, education and conservative budget management. Des Moines, Iowa-based Crawford Johnson & Northcott market research firm conducted the poll for WSMV earlier this week, polling 603 registered voters across the state.

Haslam was also identified in WSMV's poll as the strongest Republican in the General Election.

With recent endorsements from Reagan economist Art Laffer and UT men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl, WSMV's poll is the newest indication Haslam has the momentum less than 10 days before early voting. Two other recent polls showed Haslam as the strongest Republican in the GOP field, and the campaign recently announced that Mayor Haslam surpassed $8 million in total funds raised from a record number of contributions.

"When this campaign began, we sat down and developed a plan to put us exactly in this position, and we'll continue to execute our plan into the Early Voting period and through Aug. 5," Haslam said. "Crissy and I are grateful for the support we have received thus far, and we'll continue to work hard to earn Tennesseans' support and vote."

"Tennesseans want a serious discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing the state," said Mark Cate, Campaign Manager. "Bill Haslam is having that discussion with them, and they like what they're hearing because he is an experienced leader with the right temperament and proven record of job creation, strengthening education and conservatively managing a budget," Cate added.


Wamp campaign response:


"This new poll is great news for Zach Wamp. His television campaign is just now beginning to take hold, and he's already closing the gap from polls released by Rasmussen and Haslam's own campaign. Zach's got the vision. He's got the momentum. And this is now his race to win."

"The bad news for Bill Haslam is that the people of Tennessee aren't buying what he's selling. Despite spending over $10 million on TV, radio and mail pretending to be something he's not, voters clearly know the difference between a real conservative leader like Zach and a guy who plays one on television."

"This race is like David and Goliath - and Goliath is starting to crumble."

- Sam Edelen, campaign spokesman

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