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The Race to Elect Tennessee’s Next Senator May be Closer Than Many Expect

Republican Marsha Blackburn has a narrow two-point lead over Democrat Phil Bredesen, the former governor of Tennessee and former mayor of Nashville, among likely voters according to our poll conducted October 9-12, 2018.

Other recently published polls have shown Blackburn, the house member representing Tennessee’s Seventh District, with a five-point to a double-digit lead over Bredesen.

As with any contested race, turnout will be critical as Bredesen holds a one-point advantage over Blackburn among registered voters.

By region, Blackburn leads Bredesen by three points in East Tennessee, two points in Middle, and by one point in the West region of Tennessee. Bredesen enjoys the support of 94% of Democrats while Blackburn attracts support from 90% of Republicans, a full five points lower than Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee. It appears Bredesen has the support of roughly 5% of likely Republican voters from across the state.

Blackburn’s lead in East Tennessee is five points lower than the 54% of likely voters from the region who indicate they will vote for Republican Bill Lee in the governor’s race. It appears retiring Senator Bob Corker’s less than enthusiastic support for Blackburn could be creating problems for the Republican candidate in Corker’s native East Tennessee.

In the race for governor, Republican businessman Bill Lee holds a commanding eleven-point lead over Democratic nominee and former Nashville mayor Karl Dean.

Lee leads Dean in East Tennessee by 11 points, by 13 points in Middle, and nine points in the West Tennessee region.

Six in ten likely voters said the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016 was a very serious matter while 41% viewed the investigation as just politics – the kind of thing that both parties engage in.

Almost six in ten (57%) likely voters say they want to see Republicans retain control of Congress and nearly seven in ten (69%) support legalization of marijuana for prescribed medical use.

When it comes to civility, six in ten (59%) likely voters say that it’s stressful and frustrating when talking about politics with people who have different opinions. This includes 63% of likely Democrat voters, 58% of Republicans, and 55% of Independents.

Trust in the national press corps among Tennessee voters is low. Almost three out of four likely voters (74%) believe the mainstream media is more interested in advancing a political agenda than telling the truth. 

Trust in the media and civil dialogue among Tennessee voters appears to be in short supply during this campaign season.


This online poll was conducted with 801 registered voters from October 9-12, 2018 by Targoz Market Research. Respondents were selected from ProdegeMR’s online panel. Of the 801 registered voters, 558 were identified as likely voters.

The results reflect a representative sample of registered voters. Results were weighted for age, gender, region, race/ethnicity, income, and political party. Additional behavioral weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

[The poll was conducted by Targoz Market Research of Nashville, TN and was not commissioned or paid for by any candidate or political organization.] RandyEllison@targoz.com; RandyEllison@Twitter

Ballot Results: Tennessee Senator

QUESTION: If the Tennessee election for U.S. Senator were held today, would you vote for: (ROTATE)

Ballot Results: Tennessee Senator

Ballot Results: Tennessee Senator

Ballot Results: Tennessee Governor

QUESTION: If the Tennessee election for Governor were held today, would you vote for: (ROTATE)

Ballot Results: Tennessee Governor

Ballot Results: Tennessee Governor