Tennessee Tribune/Tennessee Star Poll: Campaign for State Senator Thelma Harper’s 19th District Seat in Nashville Wide Open

Howard Jones, Brenda Gilmore

A new Tennessee Tribune/Tennessee Star poll indicates that the race to fill the Nashville State Senate seat (District 19) being vacated by State Senator Thelma Harper remains wide open. The Triton Polling survey was conducted over four days (July 13-16) and polled 419 likely Democratic Party primary voters. It has a margin of error of 4.7%.

According to the survey, State Representative Brenda Gilmore leads Howard Jones 37.5-12.5% with a whopping 46% still undecided at this point. Two other candidates, Sandra Moore and George Thomas are supported by 1.4% and 2.2%, respectively.

Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill noted that while the poll is certainly good news for Gilmore from the standpoint of being in the lead. “However, the fact that only 37.5% of voters support her despite having better name recognition edge and the advantage of currently representing a significant part of the district in the State House indicates that there is a big opportunity for Jones to close the gap by improving his name recognition and informing voters about his credentials.” With early voting already underway, Jones needs to move quickly to capitalize on the overall lack of support that Gilmore has in this poll, Gill added.

The poll also shows that Karl Dean has a huge lead over Craig Fitzhugh in the Democratic Primary for Governor. Dean leads with 78.9 while Fitzhugh recorded support from 10.2% of Davidson County voters; 11% remain undecided. Dean, a former Mayor of Nashville, is likely to win statewide as well.

Democrat voters in the 19th District are not fond of President Donald Trump, with the President having an 86.5% unfavorable to 5.7% favorability gap. Mayor David Briley fares significantly better, with 65.9% having a favorable view of the Mayor, while only 8.4% view him unfavorably.

A few issues standout in the poll data. Asked what voters considered to be the MOST important issue to them: 21.3% said “traffic and road congestion”, 20.8% responded the “need for more affordable housing”, 15.7% replied “rising crime and violence”, and 14.3% “quality of our schools.”

When asked what the SECOND most important issue the community needs to focus on: “traffic and road congestion” ranked first at 25.9%, “quality of our schools” at 18.6%, “rising crime and violence” at 18.3%, and “creating more and better jobs” was ranked as the second most important issue by 13.3%.

Nationally, Democrats have been promoting the idea of abolishing ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) but only 26% of likely Democratic Party voters in the 19th District support the idea while 35.6% oppose it. 38.4% are undecided.

Finally, in the wake of the release of new TN Ready test scores by the State, it is interesting to note that 44.5% of respondents think there is too much testing, compared to 11.6% who said “too little” and 28.8% who responded “about the right amount of testing” is currently being conducted in the schools. 15.1% didn’t know or weren’t sure.

Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill pointed out that the survey indicates that some of the hot button issues that drive Republican Primary voters in the state barely register among Democratic Primary voters. “Republican nominees, at least those trying to win votes in heavily Democratic Party aligned areas, will need to speak to different issues to win votes in November, with crime, education and traffic and road congestion topping the concerns of Democratic Party voters.

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  1. […] July 21, a Tennessee Tribune/Tennessee Star poll indicated the race to fill the seat remains wide open. The Triton Polling survey was conducted over […]