Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, is leading Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn by double digits going into the Senate race to replace retiring Sen. Bob Corker, according to a poll released Thursday.
The poll, conducted by Middle Tennessee State University, shows 45% of registered voters favor Bredesen, while just 35% would back Blackburn. In addition, 17% are undecided.
For registered independents, preference for Bredesen over Blackburn increases to 12 points. A fifth of Republican respondents would cross the aisle and vote for Bredesen, compared to just five percent of Democrats who would do so for Blackburn.
Blackburn’s poor performance in the poll shows that Democrats are in striking distance to flip a long-held Republican Senate seat. When Corker last year abruptly decided to bow out of running for reelection, Blackburn quickly jumped in to take his place, reports the Tennessean.
Blackburn is much more conservative than Corker, drawing the bulk of her support from the GOP base. Ken Blake, the director of the MTSU poll, told The Tennessean that Blackburn could run into trouble if she finds herself needing to soften some of her more conservative stances.
“If she ends up having to kind of attract some moderate Democrats or Republican leaning independents, it could be a challenge,” he said.
The MTSU poll also found Bredesen had a considerable advantage over Blackburn in terms of getting support from voters on the other side of the aisle.
Forty-five percent of self-described independents said they would vote for Bredesen while only 33 percent of such voters said they would vote for Blackburn, the poll found.
Twenty percent of Republican respondents said they would vote for Bredesen while 5 percent of Democrats said they would vote for Blackburn.
The political makeup of the poll’s respondents included 34 percent Republicans, 25 percent Democrats and 28 percent independents. Another 8 percent said “something else.”
In an interview, Ken Blake, director of the MTSU poll, said Bredesen’s support among Republicans is hardly shocking given his popularity within the party while governor from 2003 to 2011.
“I think some of that good will or social capital that he built up as governor may be paying dividends for him now,” Blake said.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
April 5th, 2018