Poll finds Haslam, Alexander, Corker in good favor with Tennesseans

Authored By James Harrison

Tennessee lawmakers appear to be in good standing with voters across the state, according to a new poll from Vanderbilt University.

The poll, conducted by the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, surveyed a total of 1,500 random Tennesseans between Oct. 28 and Nov. 5, and sought to track trends regarding the approval of important political leaders. 

For Gov. Bill Haslam, Sen. Lamar Alexander, and Sen. Bob Corker, the results look good. 

The poll found 53 percent of respondents approving of Haslam, 51 percent approving of Alexander, and 46 percent approving of Corker. 

Disapproval percentages for the lawmakers came in 22, 27, and 27 percent, respectively. 

Dr. Josh Clinton, associate professor of political science at Vanderbilt and a supervisor of the poll, said to have two approving voters for every one non-approving was “a good spot to be in.”

“You look at the approval numbers versus the disapproval, so I think they would all be pretty happy by those numbers,” Clinton said. “Two people like them for every one person who doesn’t. That range is pretty typical of incumbents.”

Neither Haslam or Alexander are looking at bids for re-election this year. But Corker, who has already begun raising funds for his campaign to seek a second term as senator, has reported a blistering $6.5 million cash-on-hand, placing him far ahead of any opponents. 

The poll addressed the money element of politics. When asked “which of the following reasons do you think is most responsible” for placing the country on “the wrong track,” 42 percent of respondents indicated “too much money in politics.” 

Dr. Bruce Oppenheimer, professor of education and public policy at Vanderbilt, said that the connection between campaign finances and Corker’s general approval would not likely hurt his upcoming campaign.

“If there were any vulnerability with Corker, the question would be if there would be anybody who could take advantage of it,” Oppenheimer said. “If there’s not, it doesn’t really mean anything. We’re less than a year away from the election, and no major candidate has lined up against him yet.”

Corker is facing challenges from Zach Poskevich, James Durkan, and Democrat Larry Crim. At the end of the third quarter, Poskevich reported having $7,034 on hand, both Durkan and Crim reported less than $5,000.