MTSU poll shows Romney as clear favorite in Tenn. - WKRN News 2

MTSU poll shows Romney as clear favorite in Tenn.

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -

Republican Mitt Romney leads Democrat Barack Obama in the race for president in Tennessee, bolstered at least partly by the support Romney has gained among Tennessee's white evangelical voters since last spring's primary.

A solid 59 percent of the state's registered, likely voters say they support Romney. Just 34 percent say they support Obama. About 6 percent are undecided, and the remaining 1 percent say they support "someone else."

Romney enjoys his broadest support among the self-described white evangelical Christians who make up nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of the state's likely voters. Among Tennesseans in this group, Romney leads Obama 74 percent to 21 percent, with 5 percent undecided. This segment of Tennessee's electorate has supported the Republican candidate for president in both elections since 2004, the first presidential election during which the MTSU Poll sampled attitudes statewide.

Santorum won the state's March 6 Republican primary, capturing 37 percent of the votes cast compared to 28 percent for Romney, 24 percent for Newt Gingrich and about 10 percent spread among the remaining candidates. In the current MTSU Poll, 84 percent of those who said they had voted for Santorum in 2010 have now sided with Romney.

In another pattern of support for the two candidates, political independents tend to favor Romney (68 percent) over Obama (22 percent), with the rest undecided or favoring someone else. Unsurprisingly, self-described Democrats and Republicans show near total support for their parties' nominees, with 89 percent of Democrats favoring Obama and 95 percent of Republicans favoring Romney. It is important to note that partisan self-identification is predominantly determined by candidate preference in presidential election years, making discussions of Democrats voting for Obama and Republicans voting for Romney largely tautological. Overall, self-described Democrats accounted for 28 percent of the sample, self-described Republicans, 30 percent, and self-described independents, 32 percent.

Meanwhile, Republican Bob Corker leads Democratic challenger Mark Clayton, who has been disavowed by his own party, by a comfortable 59 percent to 21 percent. About 12 percent of voters say they are undecided, and the rest either prefer someone else or give no answer.

As for the U.S. House of Representatives races, just under half (49 percent) of the state's likely voters would like to see a Republican win in their districts compared to about a third (32 percent) who would like to see a Democrat win in their districts. Another 16 percent are undecided, and the rest would prefer someone else or give no answer. Here, again, the politically unaffiliated break in Republicans' favor, with 53 percent favoring a Republican winner compared to the 17 percent favoring a Democratic winner and a sizable 27 percent undecided. The rest give no answer or prefer someone else.

To learn more about the poll, visit MTSU's website.

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