A new poll by Middle Tennessee State University suggests that Governor Phil Bredesen holds a fairly substantial lead over Congressman Marsha Blackburn in the early stages of the race for the U.S. Senate.
Forty-five percent of Tennessee voters told pollsters that they would vote for the state's former Democratic governor if the election were held today. That was 10 percentage points more than Blackburn, a Republican whose congressional district includes Clarksville, Brentwood and Columbia. The results are even more favorable for Bredesen than a poll from March by left-leaning Public Policy Polling that suggested he had a five-point lead.
MTSU says Bredesen's lead appears to be based on crossover appeal. Independents were more likely to favor Bredesen and even one-in-five Republicans say they're planning to vote for him.
"Our polling during Bredesen’s time as governor showed him consistently attracting appreciable support among Republicans and independents as well as among his fellow Democrats. That record may be paying dividends for him now," poll associate director Jason Reineke said in a release.
MTSU pollsters also found steady support for President Donald Trump in Tennessee. Fifty percent say they approve of the job he's doing.
"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," poll director Ken 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."
Reading The Gubernatorial Results
There's no clear front-runner in the 2018 race for governor. But the latest MTSU poll results do show that Republican Bill Lee, a Franklin businessman, and Democrat Craig Fitzhugh, House Minority Leader, significantly trail the top tier of candidates. Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd and Gallatin Congressman Diane Black — both Republicans — and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, a Democrat, have the highest favorability ratings.