Marsha Blackburn

New Vanderbilt poll has Bredesen up by 1 point

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen speaks to the Nashville Rotary on Aug. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A new Senate poll conducted for Vanderbilt University shows Democrat Phil Bredesen edging Republican Marsha Blackburn among registered voters 44% to 43%.

The poll was conducted by SSRS, which receives an A-minus rating from polling site The same company conducted a poll for CNN from Sept. 11 through Sept. 15 that found Bredesen with a 50% to 42% advantage among registered voters, and a 50% to 45% lead among likely voters.

The Vanderbilt poll of 800 registered voters was conducted between Oct. 8 and Oct. 13, and 83% said they “definitely will vote.” It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

The survey found Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee with a 48% to 37% lead over Democrat Karl Dean among registered voters, with 12% undecided. The September CNN poll found Lee with a 49% to 43% lead among registered voters (and 52%-43% advantage among likely voters).

President Donald Trump’s approval rating was 55%, while 42% disapproved.

O’Hara: Bredesen has steep hill to climb as early voting gets underway

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen speaks to reporters in Nashville on Oct. 16, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A guest column from former Tennessean reporter Jim O’Hara:

When Phil Bredesen announced his U.S. Senate bid in December 2017, he had a steep hill to climb. If you look at the numbers – voter registrations, turnout projections and August primary results, that hill hasn’t gotten any less steep.

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office released in June 2018 the latest voter registration numbers statewide. The 10 counties with the most registered voters are: Blount, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Montgomery, Rutherford, Shelby, Sullivan, Sumner, and Williamson. In 2014, those 10 counties provided 54% of the total vote.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight offers a reasonable projection for voter turnout in November in Tennessee: about 43%. A 43% turnout is about seven percent above the 2014 turnout, and so it captures the “enthusiasm” notion. If those top 10 counties all turn out at a 43% level, they will cast almost 949,000 votes, or slightly more than 55% of the statewide total.

In short, those 10 counties will in all probability decide the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee. The other 85 counties will have marginal impact.

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Reuters poll: Tennessee Senate race within statistical tie

Democratic candidate and former Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn shake hands after the 2018 Tennessee U.S. Senate Debate at The University of Tennessee Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, Pool)

A new Reuters poll shows the Tennessee Senate race within a statistical tie. The online survey has Republican Marsha Blackburn with 47% support, compared with 44% for Democrat Phil Bredesen. The poll’s margin or error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Pollster Ipsos gets a B-plus rating from the

According to a release about the Reuters/Ipsos/Univeristy of Virginia poll conducted between Oct. 4 and Oct. 11:

In the generic ballot question, however, Republicans lead Democrats by 8 points (50% to 42%, respectively), making this close race all the more interesting, as Bredesen appears to be over-performing on multiple partisan measures.

Among likely voters, 53% approve of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as President, as opposed to 46% who disapprove. The top issue in determining the vote in Tennessee is healthcare (17%), followed by immigration (13%) and the economy (12%). On this issue, 40% of likely voters feel that Bredesen has the better policy as opposed to 38% who feel that Blackburn has the better policy.

Likely voters in Tennessee are more likely to report they do not believe the allegations of sexual conduct against Kavanaugh (48%) compared to 35% who do. When asked, 51% of likely voters support Kavanaugh’s nomination while 39% oppose it. On the issue of the Supreme Court, 41% of likely voters report that Blackburn has a better policy, compared to 32% who report that Bredesen has the better policy.

Outside spending in Senate race now exceeds $30M

Democratic candidate and former Gov. Phil Bredesen, left, speaks during the 2018 Tennessee U.S. Senate Debate with Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn at The University of Tennessee Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, Pool)

The total amount of independent expenditures in the Tennessee Senate race has exceeded $30.5 million as of Tuesday morning.

Until recently, two out of every three dollars worth of outside money was going to either supporting Republican Marsha Blackburn or attacking Democrat Phil Bredesen. But recent filings show an uptick in spending targeting Blackburn.

The SMP group on Monday disclosed spending $3.4 million on ads attacking Blackburn. That’s in addition to $8.4 million the Majority Forward PAC has spent and $1 million from the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees. The total money targeting Blackburn has now reached nearly $13 million.

Meanwhile, opponents of Bredesen have spent about $17.5 million. The biggest spenders include the Senate Leadership Fund ($8.5 million), Americans for Prosperity ($4.7 million), NRSC ($1.5 million), and the Committee to Defend the President (nearly $1 million). The NRA has spent another $846,531.

About 56% of the outside money has spent by groups favoring Blackburn or opposing Bredesen.

What does the polling in the Blackburn-Bredesen race mean?

Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen and Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn speak at the 2018 Tennessee U.S. Senate Debate at Cumberland University Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Lebanon, Tenn. (Lacy Atkins/The Tennessean, pool)

Fresh off an online CBS poll that had Republican Marsha Blackburn leading Democrat by 8 percentage points, a New York Times poll showed her with a 14-point lead. But a new fundraising appeal by the Senate Conservatives Fund on Friday puts Blackburn’s advantage at a comparatively paltry 2 points.

So what gives? Is the group led by Ken Cuccinelli II underplaying the advantage held by Blackburn to keep the money flowing? Or are the CBS and NYT polls outliers? As the old saying goes, the only poll that matters is on Election Day. Early voting starts on Wednesday.

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Agent in Bredesen ad: Blackburn made it ‘more difficult for DEA to do their job’ on opiods

A retired DEA agent appears in a new ad by Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen’s campaign to criticize Republican Marsha Blackburn for sponsoring legislation that he says hampered law enforcement efforts to combat the spread of opioids.

“Congresswoman Blackburn introduced legislation in the middle of this crisis that’s going to make it more difficult for DEA to do their job,” Jim Geldhof, the ex agent, says in the ad. The industry got exactly what they wanted.”

The ad was released just hours before the final debate between Bredesen and Blackburn in Knoxville on Wednesday.

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Taylor Swift endorses Bredesen in Senate race

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen speaks at a rally in Nashville on Aug. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Superstar Taylor Swift has endorsed Democrat Phil Bredesen’s Senate bid over Republican Marsha Blackburn.

Swift announced her endorsement in a lengthy Instagram post on Sunday, which set of a social media frenzy among supporters and opponents alike. Here’s part of what she said:

As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives.

Bredesen thanked Swift in a Twitter post:

CBS online poll has Blackburn up by 8 points

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn speaks at a business forum in Nashville on Aug. 15, 2018 (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A new online YouGov poll by CBS News finds Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn leading Democrat Phil Bredesen by 8 percentage points among likely voters in Tennessee, 50%-42%.

The survey was conducted Oct. 2 through Oct. 5 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. YouGov gets a B rating from polling site

In the poll was conducted on the eve of the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, 47% said they would vote to confirm him, while 30% said they wold vote against. Bredesen announced Friday that he would have voted for the confirmation, upsetting some of his more liberal supporters in the process.

The Kavanaugh controversy made 55% of respondents more motivated to vote this year, while 4% said it would make them less so. Forty-one percent said it had no impact.

Among the respondents 61% approved of President Donald Trump’s job performance, while 39% disapproved. Asked what they wanted to see out of their next senator, 25% said they want a conservative who is independent from Trump while another 25% said they want a progressive who is independent from the president. Meanwhile 34% said they want someone who supports Trump as much as they can, while 16% said they are looking for someone who opposes the president as much as they can.

The poll’s sample included 53% who said they tend to vote Republican, 35% Democrats, and 9% independents.

Bredesen launches 60-second ad touting independence

Democratic Senate candidate is launching a new 60-second ad touting his independence and turning back attacks from Republican Marsha Blackburn (who also features in the ad saying nice things about Bredesen as governor).

“I’m Phil Bredesen. You know me,” Bredesen says in the ad. “When I first ran for governor, they said I’d bring in an income tax. It was just a scare tactic. I proved them wrong. I kept my word.”

Bredesen then moves on to talking about how he had to tackle spiraling TennCare costs and shows a clip of Blackburn saying “Our governor has worked diligently to get the cost down.”

The Democrat concludes the ad by launching his own attack on Blackburn.

“Today, the new scare tactic isn’t an income tax — it’s that I’ll somehow be Chuck Schumer’s lap dog. I don’t even support him,” he says. “Nobody’s going to tell me how to vote. After 16 years, Congresswoman Blackburn has become Washington. I want to change Washington.”

Majority Forward ad targets Blackburn over health care

The Majority Forward PAC is running a new ad attacking Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn. The ad features a Williamson County woman who says she met with Blackburn to discuss maternity coverage for women, but that Blackburn “basically said that there was nothing she could do.”

Majority Forward has spent $1.6 million on ad buys since Sept. 19, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

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