Is Tennessee Shifting Blue in US Senate and Governor Races? US Senate: Bredesen (D) 43% v. Blackburn (R) 37%

A new statewide poll in Tennessee has the Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate, former Governor Phil Bredesen at 43% and Rep.Marsha Blackburn at 37%, within the poll’s margin of +/-4.1 percentage points. Data was collected July 11-14.

A closer look inside the numbers shows Bredesen having more success reaching across partisan lines: 20% of Republicans plan to vote for Bredesen, while 10% of Democrats say they will vote for Blackburn. Independents are breaking for Bredesen 44% to 27%. Among voters who said they were the most likely to vote in November, Bredesen leads 46% to 39%.

In the Governor’s race, there is a statistical dead heat in the Republican primary. The Democrats are poised to nominate former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who himself is statistically tied in hypothetical ballot tests against the potential Republican nominees.

The Republican primary winner will likely not win with a majority of the vote, with the poll showing a statistical toss-up between Rep. Diane Black (27%), former State Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd (22%), Businessman/rancher Bill Lee (19%), and state House Speaker Beth Harwell (14%). Another 14% are undecided. (margin of error +/-6.4)

On the Democratic side, Karl Dean is at 44%, a large lead of and House Minority leader Craig Fitzhugh at 14%. (Margin of error +/-7.3)

In two potential General election match-ups, Karl Dean is statistically tied with Diane Black 39% to 35% with 27% undecided. The same pattern emerges when Dean is matched up with Randy Boyd: Dean 36%, Boyd 34% – with 30% undecided.

Republicans lead the Generic Ballot Test 47% to 35% over Democrats; statewide Republicans currently occupy 7 of the 9 House seats.

President Trump has a 52% approval/ 39% disapproval, a significant improvement from the national numbers Emerson published last week, which has the President underwater nationally at 43% approval and 50% disapproval.

Governor Bill Haslam is also popular with a 44% approval rating and 24% disapproval, despite 56% of voters thinking that the level of funding for local education is too low. (20% said that funding was just right, 10% think there is too much funding for education and 13% are unsure).

On the issue of marijuana legalization for adults over the age of 21, voters are split with 45% in favor, and 41% opposed.


The Tennessee Emerson College poll was conducted July 11-14, 2018 under the Supervision of Assistant Professor Spencer Kimball. The sample consisted of registered voters, n=657, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 4.1 percentage points. The data was weighted by ethnicity, gender, party affiliation and 2016 election results. It is important to remember that subsets carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. The CI for the Democratic Primary, n=206, +/-7.3 percentage points; Republican Primary, n=266, +/- 6.4 percentage points. Data was collected using both an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines and an online panel provided by Survey Sampling International, SSI.

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