Madeline Rogero's mayoral campaign today released the first poll results anyone has made public for the city race. The campaign hired the nationally respected firm Public Policy Polling to survey likely voters. The results show Rogero, a former county commissioner and recently a member of Mayor Bill Haslam's administration, with a sizable plurality of 40 percent; Ivan Harmon, the former county commissioner and city councilman, in a distant second at 20 percent; young newcomer Mark Padgett at 13 percent; late entrant Joe Hultquist, also a former councilman, at 4 percent; and political unknown Bo Bennett remaining unknown at just 1 percent.
The numbers should be encouraging for Rogero, but they also show 22 percent of respondents still undecided. That's the group that she, Harmon, and the well-funded Padgett will be focusing on from now until the Sept. 27 primary. If Rogero can boost her support above 50 percent, she will win the race outright and avoid a run-off in the general election. But if she falls short, she will face the second-place finisher--most likely either Harmon or Padgett--in November.
The poll of 600 likely Knoxville voters was taken July 18-20. A "likely voter" was defined as someone who had voted in two out of the last four municipal primaries, and who said they were planning to vote in the September election. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. PPP is a Democratic-affiliated company that mostly works for Democratic candidates and interest groups, but its polls are held in generally high regard.
According to the press release from PPP sent out by Rogero's campaign, "Rogero has such a clear advantage because with the 37% plurality of voters [in the survey] who label themselves Democrats, Rogero has an almost 5:1 lead (62-13-9) over Padgett and Harmon. Among independents, 27% of the electorate, Rogero has a 3:1 lead, topping Harmon and Padgett, 43-14-13. She even gets significant support with the 36% who claim to be Republicans, coming in second at 15% to Harmon's 35% and Padgett's 14%."