Republican Marsha Blackburn is narrowly edging out Democrat Phil Bredesen in Tennessee’s Senate race despite Bredesen having a higher favorability with likely voters, a new NBC News/Marist poll finds.
Both U.S. Rep. Blackburn (R-TN-07) and former Gov. Bredesen have seen decreased popularity since the hotly fought campaign began, NBC’s Carrie Dann reports.
The NBC News/Marist poll shows Blackburn with the support of 51 percent of likely voters, compared to 46 percent support for Bredesen. Among all registered voters, Blackburn’s advantage narrows to 49 percent to 46 percent.
Blackburn’s standing has improved since a previous NBC/Marist poll of Tennessee released in early September, when Bredesen led 48 percent to 46 percent among likely voters. That poll was conducted August 25-28.
NBC says the shift “may be a dose of political reality for Bredesen in Tennessee, where President Donald Trump won by 26 points in 2016. The poll’s sample shows that 43 percent of likely voters identify as Republicans, while just 27 percent identify as Democrats.”
Among likely voters, 45 percent have a favorable impression of Blackburn, while 46 percent have an unfavorable one, down from a 46 percent favorable/ 36 percent unfavorable rating two months ago.
Bredesen’s favorability is down, but he remains more popular than Blackburn. Fifty-two percent of likely voters have a favorable impression, while 39 percent disagree. That’s a net +13 percent, down from a net +39 percent rating.
The decrease in Bredesen’s popularity appears to have come almost entirely from Republicans, who gave him a 39 percent favorable/40 percent favorable rating two months ago but now rate him as just 24 percent favorable/ 67 percent unfavorable.
The NBC News/Marist poll shows a tighter race than a poll released earlier in October.
The New York Times earlier in October released the final results of a live poll that showed Blackburn at 54 percent to 40 percent over Bredesen.
Meanwhile, in the governor’s race, the NBC News/Marist poll shows Republican Bill Lee leading Democrat Karl Dean by 57 percent to 40 percent among likely voters.
President Donald Trump’s approval rating has improved since the last NBC/Marist poll. More than half – 56 percent – of Tennessee likely voters approve Trump, while 39 percent disagree. That’s compared with a more narrow 47 percent approve/43 percent disapprove rating about two months ago.
Republicans have seen a slight incrase in voters’ support for a GOP-controlled Congress. In late August, 50 percent of likely voters said they would prefer a Congress controlled by the GOP, while 38 percent chose Democrats. Now, the lead has increased to 54 percent for Republicans, compared to 39 percent for Democrats.
About four-in-ten – 42 percent – say they are more likely to back a candidate who supported Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, while 27 percent say they are more likely to back a candidate who opposed it.
The poll was conducted October 23-27. The margin of error for all adults is +/- 4.0 percentage points. The margin of error for 471 likely voters is +/- 5.7 percentage points.
– – –
Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.