Poll: Dem Leads In Tennessee Senate Race

HUMBOLDT, TN - MAY 30: Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and former governor of Tennessee Phil Bredesen greets Tyson Foods employees at a groundbreaking event for a new Tyson Foods chicken processing plant, May 30... HUMBOLDT, TN - MAY 30: Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and former governor of Tennessee Phil Bredesen greets Tyson Foods employees at a groundbreaking event for a new Tyson Foods chicken processing plant, May 30, 2018 in Humboldt, Tennessee. Recent polling shows a close race between Bredesen and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). The new $300 million plant is expected to open in late 2019 and employ upwards of 1,500 people. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 6, 2018 5:18 p.m.
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Former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) holds a narrow lead over Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in a new poll, the latest good poll number for Democrats in recent days as the election’s homestretch begins.

Bredesen leads Blackburn by 48 percent to 46 percent among likely voters, according to a new live-caller survey released by NBC News and conducted by Marist College.

Those numbers show Bredesen has maintained his personal popularity from his time as governor in the heavily Republican state, which backed President Trump by 25 percentage points last election. And they are the latest sign that in spite of a horrible Senate map, Democrats may still be able to play offense this fall.

The poll found that 61 percent of voters viewed Bredesen positively, with only 22 percent viewing him negatively. Blackburn’s splits were much closer: 46 percent positive, 36 percent negative. President Trump has retained a slight net positive rating in the poll, with a plurality of voters supporting him.

When the poll is expanded to all registered voters, Bredesen’s lead grows to 48 to 44 percent.

Marist’s polling has been a bit more favorable to Democrats than other public surveys this election cycle, though the pollster has a good historic track record, and Trump’s middling numbers in the survey suggest that it might skew slightly too Democratic. But the toplines match private Democratic polling of the race that has found him slightly ahead, though Republicans believe she has a slight lead currently.

The survey is the latest sign that Tennessee’s Senate race will be a barn-burner. If Democrats can pull off a huge upset in the state, it greatly increases their odds of gaining rather than losing Senate seats this cycle — and boosts their outside chances at regaining Senate control.

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