MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — While many potential 2016 candidates for president are well known to Tennesseans, some are surprisingly less so, according to the latest statewide MTSU Poll.
“At this point, when potential candidates are still deciding whether to run and there has been little active campaigning or staking out of positions, we decided that name recognition is the best way to assess the candidates’ standing,” said Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University.
“But considering that U.S. Sen. Bob Corker from Tennessee hasn’t ruled out a run for the White House, we did want to ask Tennesseans whether they thought he should go for it.”
Tennesseans seem less than keen on potential presidential aspirations for Corker, though, despite his rising political profile in recent years thanks to bipartisan congressional efforts on fiscal issues and other matters.
Only 11 percent of poll respondents said the Chattanooga Republican should run, while 41 percent said he should not run for president. A 46 percent plurality said they were unsure whether he should run or not, and the rest refused to answer the question.
The poll randomly surveyed 600 adult residents statewide Jan. 25-27 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Meanwhile, Tennesseans are familiar with some of the likely contenders for president in 2016, but not others.
Democrats: On the Democratic party side, wide majorities said that they had heard of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (98 percent) and Vice President Joe Biden (93 percent); but most said they had not heard of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who may run as a Democrat (68 percent), or former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia (70 percent).
Republicans: Frontrunners in terms of name recognition among the potential Republican candidates include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (89 percent), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (83 percent), and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (78 percent).
A second tier of recognized, possible Republican candidates is made up of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (69 percent); former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (67 percent); former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, winner of Tennessee’s 2012 Republican primary (59 percent); U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas (57 percent); and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida (53 percent).
Most Tennesseans have not heard of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (58 percent) or Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (62 percent).
Of all the Republicans mentioned, name recognition was highest for 2012 Republican nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (96 percent), who was rumored to be considering a third run for the oval office while the poll was in the field but has since formally bowed out of the race for his party’s nomination.
Interviews for the poll were conducted by Issues & Answers Network Inc., which completed 600 telephone surveys among a random sample of Tennessee residents aged 18 and over.
Data was collected using Tennessee statewide RDD sample with a mix of 80 percent landline and 20 percent cell phones. The average interview length was 13 minutes.
Quotas by gender and geographic region were implemented to ensure the sampled respondents were representative of Tennessee’s adult population. U.S. Census Bureau data were used to determine the gender distribution each of Tennessee’s Grand Divisions: East, Middle, and West.
The survey’s margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points, meaning that we are 95 percent confident that the actual result lies within 4 percentage points (in either direction) of the result our sample produced.