Tennessee poll shows Democrats closing in and voters split on guns, protests


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) - A new statewide poll from Vanderbilt University shows Democrats could pose real competition to Republicans in upcoming Senate and Governor races.

The poll surveyed 1,400 Tennessee voters on state and national issues.


Democrat Phil Bredesen currently holds an 18 percent lead over opponent Marsha Blackburn in terms of favorability. Bredesen holds a favorability score of 67 percent compared to Blackburn's 49 percent score.

While both have the support of their parties, 69 percent of independent voters support Bredesen compared to just 44 percent for Blackburn. Bredesen is even well-liked among Republicans, scoring a 52 percent favorability rating among them. Just 23 percent of Democrats were favorable to Blackburn.


Diane Black is the most well-known among the six candidates with 86 percent of voters recognizing the congresswoman. However, she received a 44 percent favorability score among voters, the lowest such score.

Fellow Republican Randy Boyd holds a 53 percent favorability rating and holds an advantage over black when it comes to independent voters. Boyd has a 54 percent favorability among independents compared to Black's 40 percent. Boyd is also the second most-recognizable name in the group of Republicans, 68 percent recognizing the name.

Candidates Bill Lee and Speaker Beth Harwell round up the pack with Lee holding a 63 percent favorability rating and Harwell 56 percent.

Democrat and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean matches Boyd's overall favorability rating with a 53 percent score. He also holds a big edge among all candidates with independents, 60 percent saying they viewed him favorably.

Fellow Democrat Craig Fitzhugh is recognized by only 13 percent of voters and has an overall favorability rating of 35 percent.


Tennesseans were split on recent gun issues both locally and nationally.

50 percent believe the protests inspired by Florida high school students in Parkland have had a positive effect on the gun debate, with 47 percent believing the protests are harmful.

Locally, 49 percent support arming teachers and 49 percent oppose the idea.


Areas where Tennesseans showed a majority of support include allowing in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants (65 percent), expanding Medicaid (66 percent) and raising teacher pay (77 percent). Seventy percent of Tennesseans also believe the way to reduce crime is to invest in education and job training.


President Trump has seen an increase in his approval rating among Tennesseans, getting a five-point boost since Vanderbilt's December poll. Fifty-three percent of Tennesseans approve of the president's work so far.

Governor Bill Haslam continues to be the most-popular politician in the state with a 66 percent approval rating. Senator Lamar Alexander is approved by 53 percent of voters and Bob Corker has 49 percent support.

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