DesJarlais poll shows him way ahead challenger; results disputed by Starrett

U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais says a poll he commissioned shows the 4th Congressional District Republican with a huge lead over his most prominent primary challenger, Grant Starrett — 61 percent to 8 percent.

The poll by Market Street Research also shows DesJarlais with a 61 percent favorable rating versus 25 percent negative rating, which a memo distributed to media says is the incumbent’s “highest favorable rating since we started polling for him in the Spring of 2010.”

DesJarlais has been in the news lately as one of the first Republican congressmen to get behind Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Starrett campaign manager Tommy Schultz promptly distributed this response via email:

Coincidentally, Grant Starrett also conducted a poll in the last couple days (by Wilson Perkins Allen, a firm Schultz says also did polling for Ted Cruz). And the results we found weren’t quite as happy for Congressman DesJarlais. Our polling predicts a statistical dead heat between Grant Starrett and Scott DesJarlais in August. 60% of our 401 Republican primary voters are angry about Scott DesJarlais’ vote for $700 billion in food stamps. But Grant Starrett is not just content with an outside firm calling a few hundred people: our campaign talks to a few thousand people every week at their doors. We’ve recently recorded over 13,000 conversations and found Scott DesJarlais enthusiasm to be in the SINGLE DIGITS. In contrast, more people are signing pledges to vote for Grant Starrett every single day and we’re going to keep on fighting to earn every vote until August 4.

The memo distributed to media by the DesJarlais campaign is below.

DATE: MAY 9, 2016

Meeting Street Research is pleased to present the DesJarlais for Congress Committee with the key findings from a survey of 400 likely Republican Primary voters in Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional District.

Congressman Scott DesJarlais starts the primary race with strong ballot support over the unknown challenger Grant Starrett. DesJarlais is well over the 50% mark on the primary ballot with fully 61% of likely voters supporting DesJarlais to 8% for Grant Starrett and 3% combined for the other Republican candidates running (27% undecided). The Congressman’s support widens among self-identified strong Republicans and very conservative voters (72% voting for DesJarlais) and Tea Party supporters (74%).

Congressman DesJarlais has a strongly favorable image among likely Republican primary voters. Eighty-six percent of voters in the 4th district have an opinion of him and he stands at a 61% favorable – 25% unfavorable image rating. That’s DesJarlais’ highest favorable rating since we started polling for him in the Spring of 2010. Moreover, the Congressman’s favorables are higher with those groups most likely to turn out in a low turnout primary election.

Meanwhile, Grant Starrett’s lack of time in the district shows – only 11% of likely primary voters have an opinion of Starrett and his 6% favorable – 5% unfavorable image rating is mixed.

This telephone survey was a mix of landline and cell phone live interviewing and was conducted May 3-5, 2016 among 400 likely Republican primary voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4.9%.

Rob Autry is the President of Meeting Street Research…