Vandy Poll: Trump approval at 52 percent in TN (same as Corker; bit ahead of Alexander)

Some findings in a Vanderbilt University poll of 1,005 Tennessee voters, conducted May 4-15:

-President Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at 52 percent, about 10 points higher than President Obama’s approval rating in a late November 2016 poll. He carried the state with 61 percent of the vote last November. Responding to a separate question on whether they believe Trump will change things for the better, 41 percent said yes and 54 percent said no.

-Among announced and potential candidate for governor, Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black had the highest name recognition, 49 percent followed by Democrat Karl Dean, former Nashville mayor at 38 percent. Others: House Speaker Beth Harwell 34 percent; , Sen. Mae Beavers 28 percent, former ECD Commissioner Randy Boyd 26 percent; Sen. Mark Green 21 percent, businessman Bill Lee of Franklin and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, both 14 percent, House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, 8 percent.

– U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker retain strong approval, with about half of Tennesseans’ support—50 and 52 percent, respectively. The Tennessee state legislature also enjoys the backing of 53 percent. All of these numbers were higher in the November 2016 Vanderbilt Poll.

-Support for the Affordable Care Act is still low but higher than it’s ever been before—29 percent. Additionally, support is growing among Tennesseans to fix the ACA (33 percent, up 5 from November) rather than repeal it (14 percent, down 7) or repeal and replace it (24 percent, down 5). In another surprise, the percentage of Tennesseans favoring a single-payer health care system has risen 6 points since November to 22 percent.

-Two-thirds (66 percent) think Tennessee students whose parents brought or kept them in the country illegally should be eligible for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. A bill to grant such students the lower tuition rate failed again in the legislature this year. (UPDATE/Note: Sen. Todd Gardenhire, sponsor of the bill, says the poll indicates growing support for the measure. Story, including some other reaction, in the TFP HERE.)

– Just 21 percent said they trust all or most of what they read or hear in the media with 43 percent trusting some of it and 34 percent trusting little to none.

-Neither party holds a majority in the state insofar as voter self-labeling goes — 26 percent say they are Democrats and 32 percent say they are Republicans, while 30 percent identify as independents and another 10 percent say they belong to a third party. Tea Party identification is down to just 11 percent, the lowest in the poll’s history.

Note: The full Vanderbilt Poll press release is HERE.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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