A new poll from Middle Tennessee State University shows Donald Trump holding a strong lead over second place Sen. Ted Cruz in Tennessee, which will be one of the states voting in the important March 1 “SEC Primary.”
Trump was in first place with 33 percent, followed by Cruz in a distant second place with 17 percent, according to the poll:
When asked to name the one person they would most like to win the 2016 presidential election, 33 percent of self-described Republican voters named Trump. Cruz came in second, chosen by a significantly smaller 17 percent of Republicans.
But 28 percent of GOP voters said they did not know who they would like to see win.
Ben Carson, who led the presidential field among Tennessee voters in the October 2015 MTSU Poll, drew just 7 percent of Republican voters in the latest sample. The remaining Republican candidates also registered in the single digits at best.
The poll was conducted of 600 registered voters, not likely primary voters, between January 15 and January 20 and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percent.
The track record of the MTSU poll in predicted the results of GOP primaries in Tennessee is not particularly strong.
An MTSU poll in Febrary 2014, for instance, that looked at the U.S. Senate primary between incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander and challenger, former State Rep. Joe Carr, gave Alexander a 21 point lead over Carr, 29 percent to 8 percent.
Six months later, in the August 2014 U.S. GOP Senate primary in Tennessee, Alexander’s margin over Carr was significantly less, 9 percent rather than 21 percent. Alexander defeated Carr 49 percent to 40 percent.
Most local Tea Party activists in Tennessee have endorsed Cruz, including Alexander’s challenger Carr, Nashville Tea Party founder Ben Cunningham, Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, and Chattanooga Tea Party founder Mark West.
Several leading state legislators, including State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Lebanon), have endorsed Trump.