Tennesseans will go to the polls Tuesday to help decide the Republican Party’s nominee for president. It could truly be a “Super Tuesday” if one GOP candidate can score enough wins in the states holding primaries on that day.
Here in Tennessee, it has been a low turnout for early voting. Election officials say the absence of a contested Democratic Primary may be one reason for early voting numbers being down dramatically from 2008.
Voter indecision may also be a reason for the low early turnout. Many likely Republican voters say they have had a hard time choosing a favorite among a field of contenders that include former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, former U.S House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Congressman Ron Paul.
Polls released last week indicated Santorum to be leading in Tennessee. The poll, conducted by Vanderbilt University in Nashville, showed Santorum leading Romney by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. Santorum and Gingrich have stumped in the state, while Romney has concentrated his campaign efforts elsewhere.
Still, Tennessee is up for grabs in Tuesday’s primary.
“As big a theme as Santorum leading is that a lot of people haven’t made up their minds,” John Geer, co-director of the Vanderbilt Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, told The (Nashville) Tennessean last week. Meanwhile, special political action committees backing the top GOP contenders have purchased considerable radio and TV airtime to promote their messages in Tennessee. Restore Our Future, a group backing Romney’s campaign, has paid nearly $1 million to broadcast an ad blasting Santorum as “the ultimate Washington insider.” The ad marks the first spending in Tennessee by so-called “super PACs” that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to influence presidential and congressional races.
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