Ma­jor­ity of state is now less con­fi­dent in Trump

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY ANDY SHER NASHVILLE BUREAU

NASHVILLE — Ten­nessee vot­ers ap­pear to be “cool­ing” to Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump with his over­all job ap­proval at 52 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to a new Van­der­bilt Univer­sity poll, which also shows a ma­jor­ity — 54 per­cent — are less con­fi­dent he will change things for the bet­ter.

The poll of 1,005 reg­is­tered vot­ers also shows sup­port for Trump re­mains strong among Repub­li­cans at 86 per­cent and self-iden­ti­fied tea party mem­bers at 90 per­cent.

But Trump’s pos­i­tive stand­ing among Democrats is just 10 per­cent and 49 per­cent among self-iden­ti­fied in­de­pen­dents.

Trump hand­ily won the state in the Novem­ber pres­i­den­tial elec­tion with 61.1 per­cent of the vote over Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton’s 34.9 per­cent.

The Van­der­bilt Poll was con­ducted May 4-14 and has

a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or mi­nus 3.3 per­cent.

Those sur­veyed were also far less cer­tain the bil­lion­aire and former re­al­ity TV star will change or is cur­rently chang­ing Wash­ing­ton for the bet­ter.

In Novem­ber polling, 54 per­cent of Ten­nesseans thought Trump would change things for the bet­ter in Wash­ing­ton. Now, just 41 per­cent think so.

Josh Clin­ton, a co-direc­tor of Van­der­bilt’s Cen­ter for the Study of Demo­cratic In­sti­tu­tions, called it a “pretty siz­able dif­fer­ence.”

The num­ber of those who think Trump is chang­ing things for the worse rose from 20 per­cent to 31 per­cent. The per­cent of those who thought he would have lit­tle af­fect re­mained steady at 23 per­cent.

Other poll find­ings show:

› Fifty-two per­cent of vot­ers sur­veyed said they ap­proved of the job U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., is do­ing. Corker, a former Chat­tanooga mayor, is up for re­elec­tion next year.

Corker has not said whether he will seek a third term but is widely ex­pected to do so.

Nashville at­tor­ney and Iraq war vet­eran James Mack­ler has al­ready an­nounced he is run­ning for the Se­nate seat.

John Geer, an­other Van­der­bilt po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist and poll co-direc­tor, down­played any idea at this junc­ture that Corker could face tough go­ing in 2018.

“I think the se­na­tor’s prob­a­bly in pretty good shape for re-elec­tion,” said Geer, adding he thinks Corker’s 60 per­cent stand­ing in Van­der­bilt’s Novem­ber 2016 poll was “ar­ti­fi­cially high.”

The lat­est poll shows Corker had sup­port among 74 per­cent of Repub­li­cans sur­veyed, while 34 per­cent of Democrats and 47 per­cent of in­de­pen­dents said they backed him.

U.S. Sen. La­mar Alexan­der, R-Tenn., had 50 per­cent job ap­proval.

Repub­li­can Gov. Bill Haslam had 61 per­cent job ap­proval, his low­est level in three years. The Gen­eral Assem­bly’s job ap­proval stood at 53 per­cent.

› In the de­vel­op­ing 2018 race for Ten­nessee gover­nor, U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., is the best known among an­nounced or likely Repub­li­cans and Democrats.

Forty-nine per­cent of vot­ers said they rec­og­nized the name of the 6th Con­gres­sional District con­gress­man from Gal­latin, near Nashville, ac­cord­ing to the Van­der­bilt Poll.

No. 2 was Demo­crat Karl Dean, an an­nounced can­di­date and the former mayor of Nashville, at 38 per­cent.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear how much of their name recog­ni­tion stems from their Mid­dle Ten­nessee power bases and the Nashville me­dia mar­ket. In fact, most of those who are bet­ter known live in or around Nashville.

State House Speaker Beth Har­well, R-Nashville, for ex­am­ple, was third in terms of name recog­ni­tion at 34 per­cent, while state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, an an­nounced can­di­date, was fourth with 28 per­cent.

Next was an­other an­nounced can­di­date, Randy Boyd, a Repub­li­can busi­ness­man and the state’s former com­mis­sioner of eco­nomic and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment. Boyd, of Knoxville, came in at 26 per­cent.

State Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, who is ex­pected to an­nounce this week whether or not he’ll restart his gu­ber­na­to­rial ef­forts, had 21 per­cent name recog­ni­tion.

State Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mark Nor­ris, R-Col­lierville, and Repub­li­can busi­ness­man Bill Lee of Franklin were tied at 14 per­cent.

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