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.

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