A new survey of Tennessee voters indicates that the race for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) is essentially a dead heat between Democrat Phil Bredesen and Republican Marsha Blackburn, with Bredesen ahead among likely voters by a 48-46% margin with 5% undecided. Republican Bill Lee has a large lead over Democrat Karl Dean in the race for Governor, 53-40%, with 7% undecided.
The NBC/Marist poll of Tennessee was conducted August 25-28 of 940 adults (which has a margin of error of plus-minus 4.0 percentage points), 730 registered voters (plus-minus 4.5 percentage points) and 538 likely voters (plus-minus 5.1 percentage points). Respondents were contacted both by landline and cell phone. While the poll data indicates that the respondents were sampled across regions in Tennessee based on population, there is no indication of the percentages of Republicans, Democrats and Independents who were surveyed.
Among likely voters, Bredesen leads among Democrats (97 percent to 0 percent), African Americans (86 percent to 8 percent), women (55 percent to 40 percent) and independents (49 percent to 45 per-cent), while Blackburn leads among Republicans (86 percent to 9 percent), men (54 percent to 40 percent) and whites (53 percent to 42 percent).
This NBC/Marist poll also indicates that President Donald Trump (who carried the state by more than 25 points in 2016) remains very popular with an approval/disapproval job rating of 47/43. Other polls have shown Trump with stronger support among Tennessee voters, having won over Hillary Clinton by a 61-35 margin. Thus, the NBC/Marist poll likely over-polled Democrats and lean Democrat Independents who are less supportive of Trump than the overall Tennessee voter base.
None of the seven Tennessee congressional seats held by Republicans are likely to change hands in the 2018 cycle, a fact confirmed by the NBC/Marist poll numbers that show that the GOP enjoys a 12-point lead in congressional preference among likely vot-ers.
Bredesen remains very competitive in the deep red state largely because of his personal popularity. Sixty-one percent of likely voters have a positive view of the former Democratic governor, versus 22 percent who have a negative view (+39). Blackburn’s fav/unfav rating is 46 percent positive, 36 percent negative (+10). Bredesen spent about $3 million dollars in television ads during the primary season bumping up his positive numbers without any challenge from Blackburn or outside groups supporting her.
Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill points out that the Blackburn campaign and conservative interest groups have only recently begun to expose Bredesen’s actual record as Governor, the financial support he has provided to the most liberal extremists in the Democratic Party (from Elizabeth Warren to Hillary Clinton) and received himself (from Tom Steyer, Chuck Schumer and Kamala Harris) while claiming to be a moderate who will not engage in partisan politics as a Senator. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” Gill notes, “and his failure to speak up and condemn the deplorable behavior of Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee in their cage-match treatment of Supreme Court Nomi-nee Brett Kavenaugh is a clear indication that he won’t possess the courage to stand up to the same liberal extremists in his party if he is elected to the Senate.”
“Bredesen is enjoying virtually unanimous support from Democrat voters in Tennessee,” Gill adds, “and that is not because they expect him to go to Washington and work in a collegial manner with President Trump and the Republicans across the aisle. Bredesen will not be a lodestar for bipartisanship and moderation in the Senate, he will simply be an enabler for the circus atmosphere his fellow Democrats have displayed this week.”