Poll finds Bredesen ahead of Fincher, trailing Blackburn in U.S. Senate matchups

Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn leads former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen 50.7 percent to 39.7 percent in a recent poll commissioned by Tennessee Star of prospective voters in hypothetical matchup for the general U.S. Senate election. The poll also found that Bredesen has a lead – 41.5 percent to 38.2 percent – in a match with former Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher as the GOP nominee.

From the Star’s report:

The automated (IVR) telephone survey of 1,004 likely Tennessee voters in the November 2018 general election was conducted for The Tennessee Star by Triton Research between January 21 and January 24 and has a 3.1 percent margin of error.

Forty-six percent of poll respondents were Republicans, 25 percent were Democrats, and 27 percent were Independents.

…Only 5 percent respondents in the poll were African-American, which is lower than historic turnouts among African-Americans in Tennessee general elections where African-American voters comprise between 10 percent and 12 percent of all votes cast.

If the poll results were weighted to reflect a general election voting population that is 11 percent, Blackburn’s margin over Bredesen drops to 7 points, 49 percent to 42 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

The Star story includes commentary from former Nashville conservative talk show host Steve Gill, who notes that both Republicans (especially Fincher) currently lack as much statewide name recognition as Bredesen while, on the other hand, Bredesen could benefit from a strong Democratic turnout (especially of the under-sampled black voters).

“Blackburn will also need to clearly define Bredesen as one who will toe the line with the liberal, national Democratic Party if she want to keep or widen that margin,” Gill continues.

“Bredesen will portray himself in the mold of a moderate to conservative Democrat and has said that the Democrat Senator he would model himself after is West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. That means Blackburn will need to make it clear that a ‘Manchin Democrat’ is one who voted AGAINST the Trump tax cuts, AGAINST confirmation of conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and FOR liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, among other things. A “Manchin Democrat” would also put liberal New York Senator Chuck Schumer in control of the U.S. Senate. None of that will appeal to voters in Red State Tennessee,” Gill notes.

Note: The results differ from a poll Oct. 20-22 by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group that found Bredesen leading Blackburn, 46 percent to 41 percent. Says a Bredesen spokesperson: “We figure nothing has changed substantively since then.”

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