A new poll released Thursday by WSMV-Channel 4 says Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam would win if the election were held now, but his lead is about as slim as it could be. And, judging by the rest of the poll results, any lead at this point could be fleeting at best.
The poll found unusually high interest in the Aug. 5 primary — some 89 percent of respondents said they would vote, although more than a third are undecided. In fact, with a week remaining before early voting begins, more people are still without a candidate than support any of the four major ones.
Democrat Mike McWherter is running unopposed in the primary. On the Republican side, the three major candidates are Knoxville Mayor Haslam, U.S. Rep Zach Wamp, and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.
Among those polled, 32 percent said they would vote for Haslam; 21 percent said they would vote for Wamp; and Ramsey pulled just 11 percent. Some 36 percent remain undecided.
Respondents were also asked whom they would support in a general election. Across the board, Republicans stomped McWherter, although that could be attributable to higher name recognition for Republicans, who have been campaigning wall-to-wall in their hotly contested primary. Meanwhile, there has been very little action on the Democratic side.
In a Haslam-McWherter race, the Knoxville mayor won 60-34 percent. Wamp won 59-35 percent over the Democrat, and Ramsey came out ahead at 51-41 percent. The remainders in all three were undecided.
The poll was conducted by telephone, and 603 registered voters responded. Tennessee allows voters to cast ballots in one primary, regardless of party affiliation.