Former Tennessee Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen holds a 10-percentage-point lead over Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn among state voters in a head-to-head contest for the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in the latest MTSU Poll.
In the race, 45 percent of Tennessee registered voters said they would choose Bredesen if the election were held tomorrow. Meanwhile, 35 percent said they would select Blackburn. Another 17 percent were undecided and the remainder declined to answer.
“Bredesen is off to a good start, and Blackburn has some ground to make up,” said Dr. Ken Blake, director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University. “But neither candidate has a majority, and with 17 percent undecided, four months to go until the primary and another three after that until the general, this is still either candidate’s race to win – or lose.”
Dr. Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll, said Bredesen appears significantly more successful at attracting voters from outside his own party than Blackburn is at attracting voters from outside hers.
“For example, 45 percent of self-described independents said they would vote for Bredesen, while only 33 percent of independents said they would vote for Blackburn,” Reineke said.
In the state governor’s race, Randy Boyd, Karl Dean, Diane Black and Beth Harwell have favorability ratings ranging from 30 percent for Boyd and Black to 26 percent for Dean and 23 percent for Harwell. With a margin of error of +/-4 percent, the results can’t determine if there is a clear leader.
The poll also found that 50 percent of Tennessee voters approve of the job President Donald Trump is dong as president, while 41 percent disapprove, 8 percent don’t know and the remainder declined to answer. Similarly, 46 percent think Trump deserves re-election, 44 percent think he doesn’t, and 10 percent don’t know or give no answer.
Those numbers are basically unchanged from last October’s poll, when 50 percent approved, 40 percent disapproved and 10 percent didn’t know or didn’t answer.
“The president’s stable approval ratings in Tennessee could be a positive sign for Blackburn, who has been aligning herself with him in her campaign advertising,” Blake said. “But the same numbers indicate he is a polarizing figure, which could be a problem for Blackburn if she ends up needing help from voters outside Trump’s base.”
Looking at state voters’ approval of other key political leaders:
- 41 percent approve of Sen. Corker, compared to 45 percent in October
- 39 percent approve of Sen. Lamar Alexander, compared to 45 percent in October
- 58 percent approve of Gov. Bill Haslam, compared to 56 percent in October
- 47 percent approve of the Tennessee Legislature, compared to 48 percent in October
- 14 percent approve of the U.S. Congress, compared to 13 percent in October.
The scientifically valid poll of 600 registered Tennessee voters reached by Issues & Answers Network Inc. interviewers via randomly selected cell and landline phone numbers was conducted March 22-29 and has an error margin of 4 percentage points. The poll is supported by MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment as well as by the School of Journalism and Strategic Media.