From Rasmussen Reports:
Just two days before Super Tuesday, the Republican primary race in Tennessee has become a two-man competition between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. The first Rasmussen Reports survey of Likely GOP Primary Voters in Tennessee shows Santorum attracting 34% of the vote, while Romney earns 30%. Polls from other firms have previously shown Santorum with a large lead in the state.
This Tennessee survey of 750 Likely Republican Primary Voters was conducted on March 3, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.
A Battle for the Heart & Soul of TN GOP?
With Republicans firmly in control of Tennessee, the outcome of the battle between Romney and Santorum could signal the direction in which the Tennessee GOP, and possibly the entire state, will march for years to come, according to Chas Sisk.
“Tennessee, it’s moved past center right and more to the right in the last few years,” said (Santorum supporter Glen) Hughes, 47, a Bellevue accountant and the president of a group called the Tennessee Republican Assembly — the “right-wing side of the Republican Party,” as he put it.
“I think Santorum appeals to your average Tennessean.”
A victory by Santorum would suggest that the GOP’s conservative wing will continue to rise and could even displace moderates such as Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell in Nashville. But a come-from-behind win by Romney would show that top party leaders still have their fingers on the pulse of Tennessee’s voters.
Gingrich Wins TCU Straw Poll
Excerpt from a Gingrich campaign email on Sunday:
Just last night, Newt won the straw poll at the Tennessee Southern Conservative Union’s annual banquet with 37.96% of the vote. Santorum was next with 33.8%. Rep. Paul pulled 11.11% and Romney finished in last place with 10.65% of the vote. Over in Jackson at the Madison County Reagan Day Dinner, Newt Delegate Mike Peery was named Madison County’s “Man of the Year.”
Romney Rally Breaking Rules?
Blogger R. Neal suggests that Sunday’s Knoxville Romney rally breaks Knox County school policy.,
Knox Co. School Board policy states that “No part of the school system, including the facilities, email addresses, the name, the staff, and the students, shall be used for advertising or promoting the interests of any commercial, political or other nonschool agency or organization.”
Crossover voting? Well, It Depends
While slamming crossover voting by Democrats in Michigan, Mitt Romney backers aren’t so much opposed in Tennessee, reports The Tennessean.
Middle Tennessee State University released polling data that showed Romney leading among Democratic voters and tied with Santorum among independents. He was losing to Santorum by a 21-point margin among Tennessee Republicans. So was the Romney campaign saying they didn’t want Democrats and independents to vote in the Republican primary in Tennessee?
The campaign didn’t seem to have a ready answer. When asked, they fell silent for a good five seconds before former U.S. Treasurer Bay Buchanan finally said crossover voters might be OK after all.
Note: Both party chairmen in Tennessee, Chris Devaney and Chip Forrester, say they don’t expect much crossover in the state on Tuesday. But there are some like, say, Pam Strickland.
Heckled Newt’s Finest Moment
According to Chas Sisk’s notebook, Newt Gingrich’s best moment during last week’s campaign swing through Nashville may have been his handling of six Occupy Nashville protesters who disrupted his Monday afternoon rally at the state Capitol by waving a red banner and shouting slogans.
Gingrich did not ask security to have the protesters removed. (Note: But a Highway Patrol officer who has dealt repeatedly with the protesters suggested, ‘This is not your party’ and they ultimately departed.) Instead, he quietly waited them out from the podium, giving them an icy glare while occasionally waving to his supporters to keep their cool.
Once things had started to quiet down, Gingrich delivered his retort: “I just want to make one observation. In terms of being out of touch with reality,” he said, gesturing toward the protesters, “somebody who 21 years after the collapse of the Soviet empire still has a red flag, is a sign of a commitment to fantasy over reality that is breathtaking.”
Video of the exchange is available at Tennessean.com.
Romney is the TN Money Man
From Michael Collins:
Rick Santorum may have a 2-to-1 lead in Tennessee polls heading into the GOP presidential election on Tuesday, but in the race for campaign dollars, he remains dead last.
The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania has collected just $2,700 in campaign donations from East Tennessee, according to the most recent fundraising reports on file with the Federal Election Commission.
Santorum’s cash yield is a fraction of the haul taken in by the most prodigious fundraiser in the race, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney has collected $263,000 in contributions from East Tennessee, putting him far ahead of any of the other candidates.
Cain: Don’t Protest on Tuesday
Former presidential aspirant Herman Cain said he’s still on a mission to defeat President Barack Obama and urged conservatives on Saturday in Knoxville, as part of a statewide tour, to support former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich in Tennessee’s Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, reports Georgiana Vines.
For those who still wish the Georgia businessman was in the race, he said to vote for his fellow Georgian instead. “Don’t protest on Tuesday,” he said.
Cain was the main speaker at the Tennessee Conservative Union’s annual Reagan Day dinner at the Crowne Plaza hotel and made his comments during a reception for table sponsors before the event.