Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Early polling in Tennessee

Huckabee, Clinton lead in Tennessee polls
By JENNIFER BROOKS • Staff Writer • January 29, 2008

Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton are leading the presidential field in Tennessee, according to a new poll released today.

Huckabee, who was stumping for support in Nashville Monday, enjoys a narrow lead over John McCain, 30 percent to 26 percent. According to a survey of likely primary voters conducted Monday by Public Policy Polling of North Carolina, Mitt Romney is polling third in Tennessee with 22 percent, Ron Paul with 6 percent and Rudy Giuliani with 4 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 3.6 percent.

The poll may be mirroring the campaigns’ internal poll numbers, because Clinton made a campaign swing through Tennessee this week as well -- hitting Nashville on Saturday and Memphis on Sunday. The poll shows her ahead of fellow Democrat Barack Obama by a margin of 43 percent to 32 percent. John Edwards, who also campaigned in Nashville on Monday, trailed with 16 percent.

Obama crushed Clinton in the first southern primary in South Carolina on Sunday. But pollster Dean Debnam said Tennessee is a much different political landscape.

“The primary electorate in Tennessee is only about 25% black,” Debnam, president of the polling firm, said in a statement. “Obama continues to perform well behind Clinton among white voters, and he’s going to have difficulty winning primaries in states without large African American populations if that continues.”

The poll showed Obama leading Clinton 60 percent to 20 percent among black voters in the poll, but trailing her by an equally large margin among -- 50 percent to 22 percent – among white voters. In addition, after struggling with the female vote in South Carolina, Clinton appears to be leading Obama 47 percent to 28 percent among women.

Tennessee is the buckle of the Bible belt and Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, appears to be playing well to the state’s evangelical base.

“The key to Mike Huckabee’s success in Tennessee compared to South Carolina is that more GOP voters in the state list moral and family values as a top concern when deciding who to vote for,” Debnam said. “Huckabee is earning the support of those folks by a wide margin.”

Almost a quarter of likely Republican voters, 24 percent, listed moral and family values as their biggest issue – and among these values voters, Huckabee enjoys 53 percent support.

The poll surveyed 753 likely Democratic primary voters and 1,093 likely Republican primary voters on January 28th. The complete poll can be found at www.publicpolicypolling.com.