Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuke Rising In TN

Democratic US Senate hopeful Bob Tuke's camp started the week with some great news, courtesy of two separate polls.

The first, conducted by the Global Strategy Group of 600 likely voters, found that Tuke has cut incumbent Republican Lamar Alexander's lead in half since June, with Tuke now trailing by only 12 points. Alexander is at 50% and Tuke is at 38%.

Moreover, the GSG poll found that when respondents were re-polled after finding out more about Tuke, the difference shrank to 46% for Alexander and 43% for Tuke.

The poll also discovered that Tuke has enjoyed a 37-point jump in name recognition (with 76% now familiar with him), while Alexander's favorable rating dropped 8% and his unfavorable rating climbed 11%.

"A referendum is emerging throughout Tennessee, and Senator Alexander will have to answer for his voting record, which has favored special interests over Tennessee interests time and time again," said Tuke in a press release touting the new numbers.

A second poll, conducted by telephone of 635 eligible voters by Middle Tennessee State University also found that Tuke has closed the gap on Alexander. Half (50%) of those surveyed still prefer the incumbent, but Tuke's ratio of solid support climbed to 26%, with a whopping 23% undecided.

There is a 4% margin of error in the MTSU poll.

While Tuke is smiling, the Alexander campaign cannot be pleased with the new numbers, especially when you consider that Tennessee voters favored John McCain by roughly the same percentage (48%) -- and Tennessee Republicans have famously dissed the Arizona senator.

Recall that during the Republican Primary, most of the state's top Republicans supported other candidates (Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee chief among them). When the race was narrowed to two, Tennessee Republicans picked Huckabee in what many pundits regarded as a poke in the eye to the then-unbeatable McCain.

And now native son Alexander has roughly the same amount of support as one of the party’s least liked presidential candidates?

If I were Tuke, I’d be smiling too.

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