New Poll Shows Bill Lee Leads GOP Gubernatorial Primary

Bill Lee, Randy Boyd, Diane Black

A new poll released by JMC Analytics and Polling on Monday morning shows that Bill Lee now leads the Republican gubernatorial primary.

The poll of 500 registered Republican voters conducted between July 18 and July 21 puts Lee in first place with 26 percent, followed by Randy Boyd in second with 20 percent. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06) in third with 19 percent, and Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) in fourth place with 16 percent. Seventeen percent are undecided.

“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,” JMC noted in its statement accompanying the release of the poll Monday.

The poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percent and has plenty of caveats.

First, the poll was of registered voters only, not likely Republican primary voters. Just 71 percent of the poll respondents said they intended to vote in the Republican primary on August 2. Seventeen percent of respondents said they would not vote in the Republican primary, while 13 percent said they were undecided as to whether they would vote or not.

The gubernatorial matchup results of 500 respondents included likely primary voters and uncertain primary voters. Of those 500 respondents, 84.5 percent, or 423, said they were definitely voting in the Republican primary, while 15.5 percent, or 77, said they were uncertain if they would vote in the Republican primary.

JMC  did not provide crosstabs that showed the breakdown between the 423 likely primary voters and the 77 uncertain primary voters polled.

Typically, the most reliable polls include only likely voters, not registered voters.

Second, as JMC  concluded in their executive summary, “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.”

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. gave JMC a C+ grade for its polling of the 2016 election.

You can read the top line summary of the poll, along with the crosstabs, here:

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11 Thoughts to “New Poll Shows Bill Lee Leads GOP Gubernatorial Primary”

  1. […] poll released Monday shows Lee in the lead. The poll of 500 registered Republican voters conducted […]

  2. […] blockbuster poll released on Monday that shows Williamson County businessman Bill Lee leading the Republican gubernatorial […]

  3. Kevin

    During campaign season, I answer every call, in fact I run to the phone, hoping to get a survey, and give my 2 cents. Yeah right!

    Whether the poll called 500, 1200, or 2000, it’s like rolling the dice, and statistically insignificant!! There is nothing “scientific” about political science! Guaranteed none of these political hacks have ever even opened a statistics book, let alone taken a statistics class.

    I do believe that this poll however does reflect how the vote is going. Why? Because now Diane is robo calling trying to play nice and not be the vindictive, entitled dilettante, that she is. She knows she’s losing and now has to switch gears and act all nicey nice. People aren’t buying it, her unfavorability #’s reflect the truth!

    1. Terry

      I was wondering who the five people were that responded they were voting for Basil Marceaux, and now I think I know at least one. If so, a hat tip to you sir, you sure threw them for a loop and hopefully had a good laugh afterward!

  4. Donna Locke

    These polls will never get me. I don’t answer unknown numbers.

  5. lb

    Wow what a biased BS poll–another one! 500 ppl–of which ONLY 17% are committed to voting R–discredited right off the bat. And yet–that is ALL I heard about on local news this morning and radio. Del Giorgnio is unlistenable at this point –he had Dr Swain on and treated her abysmally. He was rude, arrogant and purposely insulting. His Bill Lee love is a huge turn off with his trashing of other candidates and attitudes.
    I think this is just someone’s (Lee campaign–looking at YOU) way to try and depress Black voters. This way Lee stays above the fray –which to me, is cowardly. Sorry, this is probably way off the mark

  6. Terry

    I don’t put a lot of stock in polls, even when they favor my choices. Instead, I maintain a focus on issues and the candidate’s respective vision for the state, his leadership, and his record. In that regard, Bill Lee was the clear choice. He’s the only candidate that has a specific plan to reduce the size of state government to the minimum necessary and to migrate what remains to the local level. The local level is where everyday citizens can have the most influence on issues that directly impact their lives and that of their children and grandchildren. Both Black and Boyd favor, instead, continuing concentration of influence and wealth in a centralized, faceless Nashville and DC bureaucracy, which feeds and nurtures the swamp creatures, rather than starve them.

    To the extent that this poll is an accurate reflection of everyday citizens in Tennessee, it is very encouraging. Buckle up though, because now the Alinskyite smear tactics and fear mongering is about to take on a whole new dimension. Even this media outlet – whereas the usual practice heretofore has been to manipulate the accompanying photograph to put the leading candidate in front – in this case, it puts Randy Boyd’s instead and then engages in a none-too-subtle form of discrediting the polling firm instead. Why? A simple error, or could it be because it wants to perpetuate the fear mongering of DC Diane that if we don’t vote for her, Boyd will win? I’d like to think that it was just a simple error, but still….

    1. Stuart I. Anderson

      I like to put much more emphasis on a candidate’s political history than I do campaign promises that are generated by campaign professionals based on polling as to what the voters want to hear and are forgotten soon after the election is over and the pros leave to get ready for the next campaign. In Lee’s respect analyzing his political history is easy – HE HAS NONE, NOTHING, GOOSE EGG. Now suddenly he’s coming up with “. . .a specific plan to reduce the size of state government to the minimum
      necessary. . .” etc. that impresses Terry so much.

      Now please don’t get me wrong. I think those who know me will acknowledge that I have a pretty good sense of humor. Of course I get the humor in a man who never showed the slightest interest in politics waking up one morning and deciding he wants to be governor and then running adds actually bragging about his lack of ANY political history as actually a qualification for the job.

      OK folks, if on August 2nd the polls show that you’ve made him the most likely candidate to defeat Boyd I will have to vote for him. If, however you are voting that day and you hear ANYBODY BUT BOYD voters laughing, you’ll understand why.

      1. Terry

        A political outsider who never held elective office – Donald J. Trump

        A background of being raised financially well to do – Donald J. Trump

        Who went into the family business and grew it spectacularly – Donald J. Trump

        Who spoke directly to the hearts and minds of the working class – Donald J. Trump

        Who defied the establishment GOP and is now POTUS – Donald J. Trump

        Whose supporters ignored polls and voted issues instead – Donald J. Trump

        If we followed your strategy Stuart, i.e., following the polls instead of examining the issues, Satan herself would be President and our republic would be irretrievably lost.

        No thanks.

        Now, Bill Lee is his own man, but the parallels between his background and that of President Trump is interesting. Where he differs, and much to his credit, is his morality and refusal to go into the gutter of fear mongering and smear tactics with DC Diane and La Raza Randy. Again, no thanks.

  7. Silence Dogood

    Central Tennessee poll respondents where Bill will poll stronger in? Can a good poll cover the entire state with just 500 responses? Seems unlikely. The street buzz I hear in East Tennessee is Diane Black. Small sample but my poll is free.For references, I predicted Donal Trump would win the election of 2016 and win big.

    1. Ralph

      I agree that a sample size of 500 is tiny – plus it was heavily skewed to the 65+ age group, representing 48% of the sample.

      But President Trump did not, I repeat, did not “win big” – his margin of victory in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin was thin – razor thin in the case of Michigan. A 0.3% victory in Michigan is still a victory, yes, but it’s a squeaker and, with her winning the popular vote nationwide, a reversal in those 3 industrial states would have made Clinton, Satan’s very own, our President. So while you may have called it correct, and I mean no offense here, but I wouldn’t suggest you quit your day job anytime soon.

      Outside of the industrial Midwest, Florida, with 29 electoral votes, was also a very narrow victory. More detail: and

      The real danger in this, and I see it nationwide, is complacency. The collectivists see that and they are pouncing on it, hard. Plus they are focusing a lot of their efforts on local elections – school boards, county commissions, state legislatures, and so forth. Conservatives are giving that a big yawn, and that’s a mistake…a big mistake.