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Nashville, TN

Clinton Sweeps Democratic Presidential Primary; Rubio, Kasich Duke It Out in GOP Primary

An independent Bloomberg run could be credible threat

Nashville, TN  |  February 25, 2016 9:00 am  |  By Bruce Dobie, Power Poll Publisher

Of those who said they planned to vote in the Democratic Primary—which was a majority of the Power Poll members—Clinton received 82.9 percent of the vote compared to 16.6 percent for Bernie Sanders. When members were asked to rank the candidates in order of expected finish, Clinton also carried the day. 91.4 percent thought she would place first in the Democratic Primary, with Sanders picking up the crumbs.

On the Republican side of the ticket, it was a mixed bag. Florida senator and current establishment fave Marco Rubio placed first with 28.3 percent of the vote. Ohio governor John Kasich was a close second at 27.3 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was third at 22.6 percent, New York businessman Donald Trump was fourth at 17 percent, and Ted Cruz was fifth at 3.8 percent.

Interestingly, a majority thought Trump would win the ticket in Tennessee, even though only 17 percent in our poll said they would vote for him. When members were asked to predict whom they thought would win Tennessee, 65.5 percent said Trump will win, Cruz was seen by most as placing second, and Rubio was seen as finishing third.

The Power Poll survey was conducted between Feb. 18 and 23 and sent to 812 members. Power Poll members are influential and powerful Nashville citizens who come from a variety of occupations and fields of interest. All are capable of steering the direction of the city one way or another and were selected to be members of the Power Poll because of their high standing. 313 people responded to the poll, for an overall response rate of 38.5 percent.

The Power Poll is not a scientific poll, but it does offer a fascinating insight into the election viewpoints and opinions of Nashville’s leading citizens. To that end, it is a valuable snapshot of what this city’s powerful class thinks.

As to the presidential race, here are the other results and some observations in general:

  • One really ought not be surprised by the Clinton support. We are a moderate Democratic city, more inclined towards Democratic pragmatism than dreamy socialism. Same on the Republican side. Power Poll members—who in the aggregate do comprise a localized version of an establishment—don’t seem to find value in the outsider pronunciations from Cruz or Trump. Instead, they seem to err on the side of conventional figures like Kasich, Rubio, and Bush. (Incidentally, this poll went out on Feb. 18; Bush withdrew from the race two days later.)
  • More reason why Clinton does so well in Nashville: The relationship between Tennessee and the Clintons goes back decades. Former Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter was a Bill Clinton buddy, put Gore and Clinton together as a team, and you can take it from there. Arkansas is a neighbor; Southern Democrats still band together; important Tennessee Democrats are on the Hillary bandwagon; and the African-American vote will monolithically go Hillary. Bernie is likely to come up gasping for air on March 2 wondering what hit him.
  • SCENARIOS: If, on the GOP side, Trump wins, followed by Cruz, with Rubio in third, which is how Power Poll members seem to believe it will fall out, it’s yet more evidence that our politics are entering the realm of the paranormal. Our Republican governor and many others in the party hierarchy are supporting Rubio, which is an organic coming together of the more moderate impulses of our state’s Republicanism. But if Trump and Cruz end up winning here, it will be a nod to the far-right segment of the Tennessee Republican Party headlined by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. The other night while watching the returns coming in from Nevada, a local reporter there commented, “In Nevada right now, nobody is in control.” Same here maybe. You get the sense that fractured, twisted, historic disruptions are afoot in the Republican Party, and Tennesse’s GOP could degenerate into a similarly eery state on March 1.
  • Bloomberg did well in the poll. He would be advised to keep his checking account liquid. 52.7 percent of Power Poll members said they “might” vote for him. 11.8 percent said they “would” vote for him. 35.5 percent said they “would not” vote for him. For a New Yorker, running only hypothetically in a conservative Southern state, these are good numbers. An environment in which Trump and Sanders are the nominees creates a credible path forward for him. An environment in which Clinton and Trump are the nominees, and Hillary then gets hit with an indictment over her personal email server, also creates a path for him. Bottom line: Power elites in Nashville like Bloomberg. But how well he polls in Frog Jump, or Big Sandy, or Mountain City is a completely different story.

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