U.S. Senate campaign

O’Hara: Bredesen carried 10 biggest counties by cumulative 10 points. It didn’t matter.

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)

A guest column by former reporter Jim O’Hara:

Crow is always best eaten warm.

So, why didn’t Phil Bredesen’s performance in Tennessee’s top 10 counties with the most registered voters translate into a closer contest for the U.S. Senate?

The short and simple answer is that Marsha Blackburn swamped the Democrat by a 69-31 margin in the other 85 counties.  If Bredesen had managed even a 60-40 split, he would still have lost the election.

But the Associated Press wouldn’t have called it as early as 9:06 p.m. Central.

The top 10 counties – in terms of registered voters – are Blount, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Montgomery, Rutherford, Shelby, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson.

On Tuesday, they voted at the levels typical in recent elections and provided slightly more than 1.2 million votes, or 56% of the 2.2 million votes cast in the Senate race. Bredesen won the cumulative vote in those 10 counties by a margin of 677,226 to 559,898, or 55% to 45%.

He got 71% of the Davidson County vote and 66% in Shelby; he essentially ran even with Blackburn in Knox and Hamilton counties with 48% and 49% of the vote respectively.

Blackburn’s biggest margins in those top 10 counties came in Blount (64%), Sumner (63%), Williamson (59%), and Wilson (62%).

But of the 970,866 votes cast for the Senate race in the other 85 counties, she won going away with her 69% to 31% margin.

Was there an enthusiasm gap?  In Davidson County, about 59% of the registered voters came to the polls; in Shelby it was 51%.

In Blount County, about 57% of the voters went to the polls, and in Williamson it was close to 70%.

On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally posted on Facebook a Tennessee map, proclaiming the state a “Red Wall,” with only Davidson and Shelby blue.  And a Democratic Facebook friend of mine bemoaned the lack of a Beto O’Rourke in Tennessee

Maybe, there is no longer a center to contest in Tennessee, but the voting tea leaves seem more complicated then either would admit.  Can Republicans keep running up 70-30 margins?  How long before even those margins aren’t sufficient as the top 10 counties grow?

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O’Hara covered politics for the The Tennessean in the 1980s.

AP calls Senate race for Blackburn

Republican Marsha Blackburn has won the Tennessee Senate race against Democrat Phil Bredesen, according to The Associated Press.

 

Early numbers look good for Blackburn, but Nashville and Memphis still to report any numbers

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

Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn has a big lead in early returns, but there have yet to be any results reported from the Democratic strongholds of Memphis or Nashville.

With 5% of precincts reporting, here’s how it looks:

Marsha Blackburn Republican 338,013 61%
Phil Bredesen Democrat 209,583 38%

Two interesting results from East Tennessee: Bredesen was up by 5 points in Hamilton County and behind by just 4 points in Knox County.

County Blackburn Bredesen
Knox
58,323
54,026
Hamilton
31,935
35,261

 

 

What does early voting in Williamson County tell us?

The Tennessean’s Elaina Sauber has the early voting results from Williamson County, home to both Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn and GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Lee. Both Republicans came out of early voting with big leads, but Blackburn’s 18-point lead over Democrat Phil Bredesen was much smaller than Lee’s 29-point advantage over Democrat Karl Dean.

Will that fall-off for Blackburn portend a closer race with Bredesen? We’ll see as more votes come in.

Group spends $3.5M to promote black turnout

Tennessee is one of the Black Progressive Action Coalition’s top investments this election season as it has worked to get African-American voters to the polls in the state’s four largest cities, the Associated Press’ Jonathan Mattise reports.

The related Black Progressive Action Coalition and BlackPAC have spent more than $3.5 million on direct mail, radio ads, door knocking, and phone calls targeting Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville.

One of the radio spots tells voters that its within their power to keep “Trump’s biased and extreme agenda in check.”

See a full-page flyer after the jump.

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Watch Blackburn’s comments at Trump rally in Chattanooga

Here are Republican Senate candidate Marsh Blackburn’s comments at a Chattanooga rally featuring President Donald Trump on Sunday evening:

Bredesen speaks in Chattanooga, hours before Trump rally

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

Democratic Senate candidate Phi Bredesen held a rally on Sunday in Chattanooga just hours before President Donald Trump was scheduled to  come to the city to headline an event for Republican rival Marsha Blackburn.

“If the previous two visits are any guide, he’ll have plenty of derogatory things to say about me,” Bredesen said in his prepared remarks.

“That’s OK — politics today is a blood sport — but I’ve come here to show that there are other ways to campaign and to present your case to the people of Tennessee,” Bredesen said. “We should vote people in and out, not shout them in and out.”

Bredesen praised retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-Chattanooga), who “is understandably not here with us” — but was also not attending the Blackburn rally because of an unspecified prior engagement.

“I want everyone to know that I admire the job he did as Chattanooga’s mayor, and I respect enormously how he has carried himself in his two terms in the United States Senate,” Bredesen said. “As you all know, I’m seeking to follow him in that seat, and it would be a privilege to do so.”

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O’Hara: The hill might no longer be quite as steep for Bredesen

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)

A guest column from former reporter Jim O’Hara:

“Follow the money” is still a pretty good political maxim. Republican and Democratic PACs continued to spend heavily in the Phil Bredesen-Marsha Blackburn U.S. Senate race  despite recent polls showing a Blackburn lead (totals this week alone: $5.9 million for her, $7.9 million for him).

Reviewing the recently completed statewide early voting, in fact, suggests a race to the finish. An earlier column argued for the outsized role in Tennessee of the 10 counties with the highest numbers of registered voters. In the 2014 mid-terms, those 10 counties provided 54% of the total vote. One can also assume President Trump didn’t pick Chattanooga for a Sunday rally for Blackburn just because it has spillover potential in the Georgia governor’s race.

The counties are: Blount, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Montgomery, Rutherford, Shelby, Sullivan, Williamson, and Wilson.

In the early voting that ended Thursday, those 10 counties were the top 10 counties of early voters. They cast 814,001 votes, or 59% of the total early vote of 1,378,840.

And Davidson and Shelby accounted for 350,924 votes, or 43% of the votes cast in those 10 counties.

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ETSU poll finds Blackburn-Bredesen tied at 44%

A new poll by Eastern Tennessee State University finds Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen tied at 44%. That number is fairly consistent with what Bredesen has been polling at in a series of other public polls released this week, but far below the level of support (generally around 50%) that Blackburn has been receiving.

ETSU is unrated by the polling site FiveThirtyEight.com, while the other surveys released this week had ratings ranging from A to B.

The new poll also found Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee was leading Democrat Karl Dean by 47% to 35%.

The survey’s other findings, 52% sayid state is on the right track, while 20% think it’s on the wrong track. Seventy-three percent of Republicans were more likely to say the state was headed in the right direction, compared with 38% of Democrats and 42% of independents.’

The poll of 495 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points based on a projected turnout of 55%.

 

The Tennessean was blamed for boosting Blackburn profile in 2001

July 21, 2001

Political jokesters have taken to handing out placards saying “Annoy the Tennessean. Vote Blackburn.” But the vitriol against the Nashville daily didn’t always from from that direction.

In 2001, Democrats and Republicans alike blamed The Tennessean for unquestioningly boosting Blackburn’s profile during the income tax fight at the state Capitol.

Here’s an excerpt of a fake press release written on March 13, 2001:

 

GANNETT ANNOUNCES NAME CHANGE FOR NASHVILLE DAILY

In a highly anticipated move, the Gannett Corporation announced that the name of the daily newspaper in Nashville would no longer be the Tennessean. The company noted its intention to change the name of the hard-hitting news daily to the Marsha Blackburn Newsletter.

Editor Frank Sutherland welcomed the change by noting, “The Tennessean has always been interested in in-depth coverage of the issues that are important to the lives of Middle Tennesseans. We believe that the mission of the newspaper can be better served by being forthright with our readers and letting them know what our newspaper stands for. The recent article on our favorite Senator (Marsha, Marsha, Marsha) illustrates the hard line our news team takes. We lob the softballs, ahem, I mean ask the tough questions, and I believe it shows in our coverage. We believe in pressing our newsmakers for details, and calling their hand when they lack specifics. That’s why we thought the name change appropriate.”

There are expected to be no noticeable changes to the daily other than a mandatory photo of Marsha Blackburn front page above the fold in every edition…