Monthly Archives: October 2018

New Vanderbilt poll has Bredesen up by 1 point

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen speaks to the Nashville Rotary on Aug. 20, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A new Senate poll conducted for Vanderbilt University shows Democrat Phil Bredesen edging Republican Marsha Blackburn among registered voters 44% to 43%.

The poll was conducted by SSRS, which receives an A-minus rating from polling site FiveThirtyEight.com. The same company conducted a poll for CNN from Sept. 11 through Sept. 15 that found Bredesen with a 50% to 42% advantage among registered voters, and a 50% to 45% lead among likely voters.

The Vanderbilt poll of 800 registered voters was conducted between Oct. 8 and Oct. 13, and 83% said they “definitely will vote.” It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

The survey found Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee with a 48% to 37% lead over Democrat Karl Dean among registered voters, with 12% undecided. The September CNN poll found Lee with a 49% to 43% lead among registered voters (and 52%-43% advantage among likely voters).

President Donald Trump’s approval rating was 55%, while 42% disapproved.

O’Hara: Bredesen has steep hill to climb as early voting gets underway

Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen speaks to reporters in Nashville on Oct. 16, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A guest column from former Tennessean reporter Jim O’Hara:

When Phil Bredesen announced his U.S. Senate bid in December 2017, he had a steep hill to climb. If you look at the numbers – voter registrations, turnout projections and August primary results, that hill hasn’t gotten any less steep.

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office released in June 2018 the latest voter registration numbers statewide. The 10 counties with the most registered voters are: Blount, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Montgomery, Rutherford, Shelby, Sullivan, Sumner, and Williamson. In 2014, those 10 counties provided 54% of the total vote.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight offers a reasonable projection for voter turnout in November in Tennessee: about 43%. A 43% turnout is about seven percent above the 2014 turnout, and so it captures the “enthusiasm” notion. If those top 10 counties all turn out at a 43% level, they will cast almost 949,000 votes, or slightly more than 55% of the statewide total.

In short, those 10 counties will in all probability decide the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee. The other 85 counties will have marginal impact.

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Reuters poll: Tennessee Senate race within statistical tie

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)

A new Reuters poll shows the Tennessee Senate race within a statistical tie. The online survey has Republican Marsha Blackburn with 47% support, compared with 44% for Democrat Phil Bredesen. The poll’s margin or error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Pollster Ipsos gets a B-plus rating from the FiveThirtyEight.com.

According to a release about the Reuters/Ipsos/Univeristy of Virginia poll conducted between Oct. 4 and Oct. 11:

In the generic ballot question, however, Republicans lead Democrats by 8 points (50% to 42%, respectively), making this close race all the more interesting, as Bredesen appears to be over-performing on multiple partisan measures.

Among likely voters, 53% approve of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as President, as opposed to 46% who disapprove. The top issue in determining the vote in Tennessee is healthcare (17%), followed by immigration (13%) and the economy (12%). On this issue, 40% of likely voters feel that Bredesen has the better policy as opposed to 38% who feel that Blackburn has the better policy.

Likely voters in Tennessee are more likely to report they do not believe the allegations of sexual conduct against Kavanaugh (48%) compared to 35% who do. When asked, 51% of likely voters support Kavanaugh’s nomination while 39% oppose it. On the issue of the Supreme Court, 41% of likely voters report that Blackburn has a better policy, compared to 32% who report that Bredesen has the better policy.

Outside spending in Senate race now exceeds $30M

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)

The total amount of independent expenditures in the Tennessee Senate race has exceeded $30.5 million as of Tuesday morning.

Until recently, two out of every three dollars worth of outside money was going to either supporting Republican Marsha Blackburn or attacking Democrat Phil Bredesen. But recent filings show an uptick in spending targeting Blackburn.

The SMP group on Monday disclosed spending $3.4 million on ads attacking Blackburn. That’s in addition to $8.4 million the Majority Forward PAC has spent and $1 million from the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees. The total money targeting Blackburn has now reached nearly $13 million.

Meanwhile, opponents of Bredesen have spent about $17.5 million. The biggest spenders include the Senate Leadership Fund ($8.5 million), Americans for Prosperity ($4.7 million), NRSC ($1.5 million), and the Committee to Defend the President (nearly $1 million). The NRA has spent another $846,531.

About 56% of the outside money has spent by groups favoring Blackburn or opposing Bredesen.

Internal Bredesen polls say Senate race deadlocked

Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, right, speaks during the 2018 Tennessee U.S. Senate Debate with Democratic candidate and former Gov. Phil Bredesen at The University of Tennessee Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, Pool)

Internal polling by Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen’s campaign suggests the race with Republican Marsha Blackburn remains tight.

According to pollster Garin-Hart-Young, Blackburn had the support of 48% of Tennesseans in two early October polls, while Bredesen had 47%. That’s after more than $20 million in negative attacks aimed at Bredesen or supporting Blackburn. The internal pollster found the same level of support for Bredesen in a September survey, through Blackburn’s support had grown by 3 percentage points since then.

The polling site FiveThirtyEight.com gives Garin-Hart-Young a B-plus rating. The internal Bredesen numbers are at odd with recent public polls that suggest a widening lead for Blackburn (+6 by Fox News, +8 by CBS, +14 by the New York Times).

What does the polling in the Blackburn-Bredesen race mean?

Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen and Republican candidate Marsha Blackburn speak at the 2018 Tennessee U.S. Senate Debate at Cumberland University Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Lebanon, Tenn. (Lacy Atkins/The Tennessean, pool)

Fresh off an online CBS poll that had Republican Marsha Blackburn leading Democrat by 8 percentage points, a New York Times poll showed her with a 14-point lead. But a new fundraising appeal by the Senate Conservatives Fund on Friday puts Blackburn’s advantage at a comparatively paltry 2 points.

So what gives? Is the group led by Ken Cuccinelli II underplaying the advantage held by Blackburn to keep the money flowing? Or are the CBS and NYT polls outliers? As the old saying goes, the only poll that matters is on Election Day. Early voting starts on Wednesday.

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Norris confirmed for federal judgeship in Memphis

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R- Collierville) and Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) attend a hearing on open records exemptions in Nashville on Jan. 30, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm the long-delayed judicial nomination of state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris. The Collierville Republican now heads to the federal court bench in Memphis. The confirmation vote was 51-44. The chamber also confirmed former federal prosecutor and FBI agent Eli Richardson to a federal judgeship in Nashville.

Here is some reaction to Norris’ confirmation:

I recommended Senator Norris to the president, and I strongly supported Mark’s nomination. He is respected by his peers around the country, having been elected chairman of the Council of State Governments, and has been an advocate and a champion for federalism and for the separation of powers. He is a citizen, a lawyer and a legislator. I have known him for many years — since I was the governor of Tennessee — and I am glad the Senate voted to confirm him today. — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville).

 

“Mark Norris has long been a devoted public servant in Tennessee, and I am pleased he will continue to serve our state as a federal district court judge,” said Corker. “I am confident Mark will faithfully uphold the Constitution and serve West Tennesseans with integrity as he has throughout his terms in the state legislature. — U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Chattanooga).

 

As our Senate Majority Leader, Mark has been an indispensable asset not just to the Senate but to state government as a whole. While we will all miss his keen mind, sound judgment and strong leadership in state government, we can take comfort in the fact our federal courts have gained an outstanding judge. — State Senate Speaker Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge).

 

Congratulations to Mark Norris for being confirmed as a West Tennessee federal judge.  Mark’s many years of service have made him highly respected throughout the entire state of Tennessee, and I believe he will make an excellent addition to this court. — U.S. Rep. David Kustoff (R-Memphis).

Haslam grants 10-day execution delay to prepare electric chair

Gov. Bill Haslam speaks at a press conference at the state Capitol in Nashville on March 1, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A statement from Gov. Bill Haslam about his decision to grant a 10-day delay in the execution of death row inmate Edmund Zagorski:

I am granting to Edmund Zagorski a reprieve of 10 days from execution of the sentence of death imposed upon by him by a jury in 1984 which was scheduled to be carried out later today. I take seriously the responsibility imposed upon the Tennessee Department of Correction and me by law, and given the federal court’s decision to honor Zagorski’s last-minute decision to choose electrocution as the method of execution, this brief reprieve will give all involved the time necessary to carry out the sentence in an orderly and careful manner.

NRSC says ‘left wing radicals’ want Bredesen to win

A new ad from the National Republican Senate Committee says “left wing radicals” need Democrat Phil Bredesen to win so they can further their agenda in Congress.

“Left wing radicals plan to impeach Brett Kavanaugh. Impeach President Trump. But they have to take Congress to do it,” the ad’s narrator says. “That’s why the radicals are backing Phil Bredesen in Tennessee.”

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Agent in Bredesen ad: Blackburn made it ‘more difficult for DEA to do their job’ on opiods

A retired DEA agent appears in a new ad by Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen’s campaign to criticize Republican Marsha Blackburn for sponsoring legislation that he says hampered law enforcement efforts to combat the spread of opioids.

“Congresswoman Blackburn introduced legislation in the middle of this crisis that’s going to make it more difficult for DEA to do their job,” Jim Geldhof, the ex agent, says in the ad. The industry got exactly what they wanted.”

The ad was released just hours before the final debate between Bredesen and Blackburn in Knoxville on Wednesday.

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