A new post-primary poll conducted by Gravis Marketing shows the Tennessee Republican candidates for Governor and Senate leading their Democratic Party opponents. The poll of likely November voters indicates that Bill Lee has an 11 point margin over Karl Dean, with 9% uncertain, in the Governor’s race. In the Senate battle to fill the seat of retiring Senator Bob Corker, Marsha Blackburn leads Phil Bredesen by a 48-44 margin with 8% uncertain.
The poll surveyed surveyed 620 likely voters between Aug. 9 and 11. Polls by Gravis Marketing have not always been considered among the most reliable in political circles. In fact, they have been identified as the worst polling company in America by some.
Based upon the relatively low approval numbers for President Donald Trump in this poll, 54% approval in a state he carried with over 60% of the vote, and 79% approval among Tennessee Republicans when other state and national polls have shown him with approval ratings in the mid to high 80s among his party, the Gravis Poll may be showing less support for the Republican candidates than they actually have.
Nevertheless, there are some interesting tidbits within the data. Both Blackburn and Lee seem to have successfully coalesced their own party faithful behind their campaigns; while Bredesen and Dean have done the same thing. A red flag for Dean should be the fact that while 88% of Republicans support Lee, Dean has support from 79% of Democrats with 16% favoring Lee.
Both Republicans show almost an even split with their Democratic counterparts among Independents, which may also reveal a “lean Dem” tilt in the poll construction. Yet, it does indicate that both Lee and Blackburn have work to do among independent voters in Tennessee.
Karl Dean enjoys a 19 point lead over Bill Lee among millennials (ages 18-29) while Bredesen has a narrow 3 point lead over Blackburn in that same age group. Millennials have notoriously low turnout on election day in off-year elections, so GOTV (Get Out the Vote) efforts for both Democrats, with specific targeting of young voters, will be critical to their chances in November.
Tennessee voters can expect to hear a lot about Nancy Pelosi over the next two months, based on the survey results. 33% of Democrats and 52% of Independents are “less likely” to support a candidate for Congress who would support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House. The poll didn’t ask a similar question about Democrat Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is supporting Phil Bredesen and is hopeful that a Democrat majority will enable him to replace Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader.
Finally, while the coordinated “attack Trump” editorial effort that has 200+ newspapers targeting Trump for condemnation on Thursday may play well with Democrats, it is unlikely to improve their approval ratings with Independents and Republicans. 76.7% of Independents “disapprove” of the performance of the Mainstream Media; 74.5% of Republicans “disapprove” while a whopping 59.6% “strongly disapprove.”