A new Tennessee Star poll reveals that President Donald Trump is retaining his consistently sky-high approval ratings among likely Republican Primary voter (87.7 percent), with Governor Bill Lee (73.5 percent) and Senator Marsha Blackburn (76.1 percent) also enjoying extremely strong support.
However, former Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is slightly below 50 percent at 49.1 percent approval with Republicans and lame-duck Senator Lamar Alexander is underwater with an approval-disapproval rating of 31.4 to 46.9 percent, similar to but not nearly as bad as the low approval ratings recorded by former Senator Bob Corker before he chose to not seek reelection. Nevertheless, Alexander’s numbers have declined from his 37.3 percent approval to 38.1 percent disapproval recorded among likely Republican primary voters in a poll conducted by the Tennessee Star last June. Since announcing he would not seek reelection, Alexander has broken with President Trump on a couple of key votes, including a vote against emergency funding for a southern border wall.
The new Triton Polling survey was conducted over four days (April 13-16) and polled 1003 likely Republican Party primary voters statewide. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.
Haslam and Alexander’s current approval numbers closely mirror the results of a Triton Poll of likely GENERAL election voters last September. As was the case at that time, both had a relatively high percentage of voters not sure or undecided about their opinion with both in the mid-twenties. The fact that neither Haslam nor Alexander are seen as allies of President Trump clearly impacts the way that a Trump-dominated GOP primary base views them.
Tennessee Star political editor Steve Gill points out that the Republican party voters in Tennessee overwhelmingly support President Trump and the fact that Haslam has a track record as a “never-Trumper” won’t help him should he make an expected run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Alexander.
“As the President has fought to secure the border and deal with the crisis of illegal aliens pouring into our country, Bill Haslam has not made a peep,” Gill says. “His silence speaks volumes, and Tennessee Republican voters have been listening.”
Haslam appears to be doubling down in establishing his anti-Trump credentials by hosting a fundraiser for adamant never-Trump Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska next week in Nashville. Sasse has regularly denounced Trump and even claimed he “thinks about leaving the Republican Party every day.” “Sasse publicly considered challenging Trump in the 2020 primary to block him from reelection, and now Haslam is bringing him to a state where Trump won 92 of 95 counties over Hillary Clinton to help him raise reelection money?”
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“Those who support Trump really support him and they will be the majority of voters casting ballots in the August Republican primary in 2020,” Gill says. “If Haslam seeks the U.S. Senate seat from Tennessee he will facing a primary election day just a few weeks before Volunteer state voters will be focused on the GOP Convention in Charlotte, NC where the President will be renominated for reelection. That’s hardly the best time for a never-Trumper to face Trump voters in Tennessee, and even billionaire Bill Haslam may not have enough money to overcome it.”
You can read the full poll results here:
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Photo “Marsha Blackburn” by Marsha Blackburn.