Vanderbilt poll finds strong support for Gov.-elect Lee

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee speaks at a rally in Franklin on Oct. 17, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A new poll by Vanderbilt University finds Republican Gov.-elect Bill Lee coming into office with support nearly rivaling that of outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam.

Here’s the release from Vanderbilt:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Governor-elect Bill Lee will enter office with a strong favorability rating of 57 percent, with only 22 percent of registered voters holding an unfavorable view, according to the latest Vanderbilt University Poll. The findings also suggest Lee will also find support for some of his initiatives, including expanding vocational training in the state. Meanwhile, health care has surpassed the economy and education for the first time in the poll’s history as Tennesseans’ chief priority for state government.

“Overall, we see support for an agenda that could work for our incoming governor,” said John Geer, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science and co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll. “Education and the economy are strong priorities, as well as immigration and infrastructure.”

“The one worry Bill Lee must deal with is health care, which has risen in importance to Tennesseans,” said poll co-director Josh Clinton, Abby and Jon Winkelried Professor of Political Science. “Although the two are related, health care now takes precedence above the economy to voters here.”

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Doctor who sued Trump loses Vanderbilt position

A doctor who was among Twitter users successfully suing President Donald Trump in federal court is losing his job at Vanderbilt Medical Center, reports The Tennessean. A Vanderbilt spokesman says the move is not related to the lawsuit or frequent Twitter criticism of the president, though he suggests that it is.

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Vanderbilt poll: Bredesen ahead for Senate (but ‘not a lock’); governor’s race ‘wide open’

Press release from Vanderbilt University

As Tennessee looks to elect a new U.S. senator and governor in 2018, new polling figures suggest Republicans in those races may be facing real competition from Democrats, according to the most recent Vanderbilt Poll.

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Vanderbilt Poll: Tennesseans are more moderate than most people think

Tennesseans are less conservative than most folks think, according to a Vanderbilt University poll of 1,013 registered Tennessee voters conducted between Nov. 16 and Dec. 5.

The poll also indicates Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn has the highest name identification among candidates for the U.S. Senate, 73 percent, followed by Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen at 65 percent and Republican U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher at 22 percent.

In the governor’s race, Republican Diane Black leads with 59 percent name recognition, followed by Democrat Karl Dean with 41 percent. Republicans Beth Harwell (40) , Randy Boyd (33), Mae Beavers (28) and Bill Lee (14) follow, with Democrat Craig Fitzhugh standing at 10 percent.

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Beth Fortune exits Vanderbilt after 16 years

Beth Fortune, who stepped down as Gov. Don Sundquist’s communications director to join Vanderbilt University in 2000, has resigned her position there as vice chancellor for public affairs, according to a university news release.

Fortune, who was a political reporter for the Nashville Banner prior to joining the Sundquist administration, will “transition”  to a complete departure from Vanderbilt “early next year,” according to the statement.

The full release is HERE. Here’s the last paragraph:

A national search for a newly created vice chancellor position that focuses solely on communications is under way, and an interim vice chancellor for public affairs who will oversee government, neighborhood and community relations will be named soon.

Vanderbilt poll: Most TN voters happy with Trump, even more with Haslam

News release from Vanderbilt University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, registered voters in Tennessee are more optimistic about the future of the state and the country than six months earlier, according to the latest statewide Vanderbilt Poll – a survey conducted twice a year by the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. The poll asked a wide range of questions, including items on key policies facing the state and the popularity of the leadership of state. One of the most noteworthy findings is that Tennesseans remain supportive of an increase in the sales tax for a gallon of gasoline sold in the state.

The poll of 1,005 registered voters in Tennessee was taken Nov. 14-29 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Favorability ratings are also up for most officials. Gov. Bill Haslam, who did not publicly support Trump, has an approval rating of 68 percent. Approval ratings are 60 percent for each of the state’s two U.S. senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker – a jump of more than 10 percentage points from last May. The legislature also has a 60 percent approval rating.

“Gov. Haslam is arguably the most popular governor in the country,” says John Geer, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science. “He is governing in this era of polarization in a way that isn’t polarizing. He needs to get credit for that. Some may have thought his concerns about Trump’s candidacy would have hurt him with Republicans and members of the Tea Party. But that is not the case.” The Vanderbilt Poll has been tracking the growth of the Tea Party influence in Tennessee.

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