New TNJ edition alert: Legislature’s popularity takes a hit, Lee looks elsewhere to fill Cabinet

A protest on the House floor on March 30, 2023, led to ouster proceedings against three Democratic lawmakers. From left are Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, Justin Jones of Nashville, and Justin Pearson of Memphis.

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it:

— Legislature’s popularity hits the skids after tumultuous session.

— Lee looks outside of Tennessee to fill vacancies within his Cabinet.

— From the campaign trail: Ex-Rep. Timothy Hill angling for appointment to old House seat.

— Obituaries: Early lottery backer Alan Hubbard, official fruit sponsor Dennis Roach.

Also: Bill Frist says gun violence “much worse” than when he ran U.S. Senate, Joe Carr hates need for “significant” property tax hike in Rutherford County, billable barbeque in Memphis, and Marsha Blackburn hawks kitchen utensils.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

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Poll: Nashville voters say ‘dealing with legislature’ will be priority for next mayor

A new Vanderbilt poll finds nearly nine in 10 Nashville voters agree that “dealing with the state legislature” will be a priority for the city’s next mayor. About 56% said they believe the capital city is on the wrong track — about twice as many as when the school first started asking the question of voters in 2017.

Fifty-two percent said they oppose a deal to build a $2.1 billion domed football stadium. Support was highest among those identified as Republican (53%) and lowest among Democrats (47%). Independents fell in the middle (50%). The Metro Council on Tuesday night advanced the stadium deal to a final vote.

The poll of 1,016 adults was conducted between March 13 and April 6. Forty-three percent of respondents said they were Democrats, 16% Republicans, and 29% independent. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Here’s the full polling memo from Vanderbilt:

and important),

For the second year running, the Vanderbilt Poll–Nashville shows more than half of respondents believe the city is on the wrong track. From the start of the Nashville poll, in 2015, until 2021, Nashvillians viewed the city as on the right track. This trend is amplified by a plurality of respondents indicating the growth of the city is making their quality of life worse, rather than better or having no effect.

However, other measures within the poll could indicate the sources of dissatisfaction are more complex than the issues that may first come to mind.

“While the trend toward concern for the future of Nashville is clear, the origins of the concern are not,” said Josh Clinton, co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll, who holds the Abby and Jon Winkelried Chair and is a professor of political science. “Even though 56% think the city is on the wrong track, 59% also approve of the job Mayor John Cooper is doing.  This suggests that concerns beyond the mayor’s control and likely related to concerns about growth, public education, and the increasing tension between Nashville and the state government are affecting people’s optimism about the future of our city.”

The fifty-six percent who think the city is on the wrong track is more than double those who thought the same in 2017. Similarly, 47 percent say Nashville’s growth is making their day-to-day life worse—just under double the number in 2017.

Yet, respondents’ views about Nashville’s economy and feelings of safety walking in their own neighborhoods have both been generally flat for three years, and views about the rapid growth of Nashville’s population have been flat for five years. Daily commute times are comparable to 2017, though that is likely a result of the dramatic increase in those working from home (15 percent in 2023 versus 3 percent in 2017).

“Views about Nashville’s economy are deeply split by income,” said John Geer, co-director of the Vanderbilt Poll, Ginny and Conner Searcy Dean of the College of Arts and Science and professor of political science. “Overall, two-thirds think the economy is very or fairly good, but if you look at those making less than $45,000 a year, that number falls to 44 percent.”

What is clear is that how long a respondent has lived in Nashville and their age deeply influence views of the city’s trajectory. 

Those who have lived here for 20 or fewer years are evenly divided about the city being on the right or wrong track, but 63 percent of those who have lived here longer than 20 years view the city to be on the wrong track. Of those aged 18–34, 50 percent view Nashville to be on the right track while that number falls to 29 percent among those 55–64. Neither household income nor party affiliation changed views of right track versus wrong track.

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Carr defends internal poll, won’t supply crosstabs

Former state Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) announces his U.S. Senate bid in January 2013.

Former state Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas) is objecting to questions The Tennessee Journal raised in this week’s print edition about an internal poll conducted on behalf of his campaign for Rutherford County mayor.

We observed pollster Triton had included a line about 180 of 455 respondents from a list supplied by the client, with the remainder coming from the company’s own voter file (an unusual arrangement, according to other campaign consultants we consulted). We then noted that despite being the source of the list that generated 180 responses, only 144 out of the total sample backed Carr in the survey.

Carr says it’s unfair for us to have said his list was “handpicked,” saying he merely forwarded the entire Rutherford County voter database created by the local administrator of elections.

Triton told us its clients sometimes provide a list of contacts to invite to respond to its internal polls.

“To assess possible differences in the client list versus the standard voter file we obtain, we breakout the results on crosstabs so the results can be compared between the two list sources,” a company official told us in an email earlier this week. “That is the purpose for the variable you are seeing in the topline results.  Take a look at the crosstabs and you can review the differences between the list sources.”

Update: A company official confirms it received the Rutherford County voter file from Carr and used Republican-leaning individuals in its automated survey.

So we asked Carr to supply the crosstabs to show how many of the 180 respondents from the sample he supplied backed his bid compared with the responses from the remaining 275 people from the company’s voter file.

He declined.

“Your attempt to get the crosstabs to review the methodology appears to be nothing more than a ruse,” Carr wrote in an email.


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