Marsha Blackburn

Democratic independent spending closing gap on GOP?

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican Senate nominee in Tennessee, speaks at a Farm Bureau event in Franklin on Aug. 9, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The heavy spending by independent groups in the Tennessee Senate race shows little sign of abating despite a series of polls suggesting that Republican Marsha Blackburn has opened a lead on Democrat Phil Bredesen.

About $12.7 million has been spent in Tennessee so far this week alone ($6.9 million by Democratic groups, $5.8 million by Republican ones), while total outside spending reached $56.4 million.

As of Thursday morning, groups favoring Blackburn have spent $31.1 million in Tennessee, while those backing Bredesen had poured in $25.3 million.

The biggest spenders after the jump:

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Fox poll suggests widening lead for Blackburn

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

A Fox News poll shows Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn with 50% support, up 2 percentage points from the last time the survey was conducted in early October. Meanwhile, the poll found support for Democrat Phil Bredesen dropped 2 points to 41%.

The poll conducted for Fox by Anderson Robbins Research and Shaw & Co. gets an A rating from the polling site FiveThirtyEight. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

(UPDATE: A CNN/SSRS poll — rated A-minus by FiveThirty Eight — finds Blackburn with a 4-point lead over Bredesen after previously finding the Democrat with a 5-point lead in September. Two other polls show Blackburn with 8-point leads: Emerson College which is rated at B+, and Cygnal, which gets a B.)

Blackburn’s lead in the Fox poll comes despite 55% of Democrats saying they are extremely interested in the election, compared with 48% of Republicans who say the same. At the same time, 92% of Democrats said they support Bredesen, while 87% of Republicans said they support Blackburn.

Approval of President Donald Trump was 58%, while 39% said the disapproved.

The poll included a sample of 54% self-identified Republicans and 35% Democrats.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee had a 54%-37% lead over Democrat Karl Dean, according to the poll.

NBC poll shows Blackburn up by 5 points

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn speaks at a rally in Franklin on Oct. 17, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A new NBC News/Marist poll shows Republican Marsha Blackburn leading Democrat Phil Bredesen among likely voters by 5 percentage points, which is within the survey’s 5.7-point margin of error.

That 51% to 46% lead narrows to just 3 percentage points among all registered voters, illustrating the importance of voter turnout in deciding Tuesday’s election. The NBC/Marist survey gets an A rating from the polling site FiveThirtyEight.com.

Bredesen led by 2 points the last time NBC polled Tennessee in August. Since then, Bredesen has been hit by a barrage of negative ads by Blackburn and independent groups. Democratic groups have since started to pour in their own attack ads, but have yet to close the spending gap.

UPDATE: An online survey conducted by Republican polling firm Vox Populi found Blackburn with a 53%-47% lead over Bredesen. The last time Vox polled Tennessee in September, it found Bredesen with a 51%-49% advantage over Blackburn. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, and gets a B rating from FiveThirtyEight.com.

One major change in the two NBC polls is the sample: 43% identified as Republicans in the October survey, while just 35% did in the previous one (the percentage of Democrats was similar, with 27% in October and 26% in August). Perhaps in a related finding, President Trump’s approval rating went from 47% in August to 56% in the new poll.
Blackburn’s lead came despite a steep increase in her disapproval rating. The 45% who had  favorable impression of her was down 1 point from August, but the 46% who saw her unfavorably was 10 points higher than in the last poll. Bredesen’s favorability also dropped, but 52% still had a favorable impression, while 39% had an unfavorable one (that +13 rating was down from +39 in the previous poll).

The NBC poll had Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee leading Democrat Karl Dean by 17 points.

Taylor Swift doubles down support for Bredesen

Taylor Swift is drawing another round of national attention for her support of Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen. This time it’s for an Instagram post featuring a photo of the pop megastar and her mother posing in front of a horse trailer with a Bredesen for Senate sign attached to it.

“These two Tennessee women voted for the candidate who has proven himself to be reasonable and trustworthy,” Swift writes in the post. “We want leadership, not fear-based extremism.”

Swift had previously broken her silence on political matters by endorsing Bredesen — and speaking out against Blackburn.

“Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me,” Swift said in the earlier post.

Bredesen touts role in sending Tennessee Guard to border

A new ad from Democrat Phil Bredesen’s Senate campaign touts his decision to send Tennessee National Guard troops to the border when he was governor in 2006.

“When the president said he needed help to secure the border, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen didn’t wait to be asked. And he didn’t play any politics,” the narrator says in the ad. “Governor Bredesen took immediate action and sent 1,600 Tennessee National Guard volunteers to the border.”

The ad follows a commercial run by Republican Marsha Blackburn criticizing Bredesen for suggesting that a caravan of migrants doesn’t pose a security threat to the strongest country in the world. Blackburn’s ad says the caravan includes “gang members, known criminals, people from the Middle East. Possibly even terrorists.”

 

Blackburn decries ‘angry mob’ while Bredesen supporters look to turn out African-American vote

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)

As Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn makes a big media push about what she calls a “liberal angry mob” for disrupting a weekend rally with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an independent group called the Black Progressive Action Coalition has jumped into the contest, spending more than $2.7 million on canvassing and direct mail in its support of Democrat Phil Bredesen.

Early voting has been highest so far in Shelby and Davidson counties, the state’s largest in terms of overall and African-American populations. Bredesen will need to carry both counties by large margins and also peel off traditionally Republican voters in other parts of the state in order to win next week’s election. Blackburn’s efforts will be focused on trying to prevent Republicans who gave President Donald Trump a 26-point victory in Tennessee in 2016 from crossing over to support Bredesen.

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Trump confirms Sunday rally in Chattanooga

President Donald Trump has confirmed his final series of rallies before the Nov. 6 election, including a third visit to Tennessee on behalf of Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn.

After stops in Nashville and Johnson City, Trump’s final visit will be in Chattanooga on Sunday evening.

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Rumblings of another Trump visit

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

Chattanooga’s WCRB-TV reports President Donald Trump may be planning another Tennessee visit on the eve of the Nov. 6 election on behalf of Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn:

Channel 3 has learned several Chattanooga agencies are preparing for a possible presidential visit ahead of Election Day on November 6.

“We would welcome a visit from the president should the president decide to come,” said U.S. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga.

A senior White House official tells NBC News that the president is expected to visit Tennessee prior to Election Day to campaign for U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Marsha Blackburn, but a date has not been confirmed. 

A staff-wide email was sent to employees of the Chattanooga Police Department telling them no time off would be granted on November 5, the day before the midterm elections. A spokesperson for the department was unable to confirm the visit will take place.

Read the full story here: http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/39359560/agencies-prepare-for-possible-visit-from-president-trump-ahead-of-election-day

UPDATE: Axios reports Trump’s Chattanooga rally will take place Nov. 4.

Race cars in political ads: Who did it better?

When Republican Marsha Blackburn rolled out (ahem) a new ad featuring the candidate in a race car, some old timers were reminded of a similar spot run by Van Hilleary, the GOP nominee for governor in 2002. So who did it better?

Here, for comparison’s sake are the two ads:

And, lest we forget, Blackburn and Hilleary’s common opponent, Democrat Phil Bredesen, hasn’t been averse to sponsoring a race truck. But we can’t remember if it featured in any ads. If so, send a link in the comments and we’ll add it to the comparo.

Blackburn fundraising appeal cites ‘statistical tie’ in Senate race

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn speaks at a rally in Franklin on Oct. 17, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A fundraising appeal from Republican Marsha Blackburn’s campaign calls the Senate race with Democrat Phil Bredesen a “dead heat” and says she needs to raise the (oddly specific) amount of $22,876 per day through the last 10 days of the month to prevail.

Here’s a copy of the email from Kevin Golden, Blackburn’s campaign manager (note that the link doesn’t bring up any further information, but it does give a link to make contributions) :

Date: October 22, 2018
Re: 15-Day Strategy

Team-

We are now 15 days out from Election Day and 4 days into Early Voting.

As you know, many of the polls coming out have demonstrated a dead heat—a statistical tie—and we are in need of a new strategy to put us over the edge.

Based on the trends we’ve been observing, we need to hit our target audiences harder, so we’re going to push more digital ads and have mapped out a new plan for TV ads. We’re going to need more resources, so we crunched the numbers – huge shout out to the finance team for getting that done.

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