MTSU POLL: Disapproval of Sen. Corker rises in wake of feud with Trump

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Disapproval of Republican Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker has risen to 41 percent among Tennessee voters, according to the latest MTSU Poll, a 14-point climb since last spring and in the wake of his public feud with President Donald Trump.

Disapproval of Trump edged up, too, from 32 to 40 percent during the same period. But Trump's approval held steady at 50 percent, well above national approval rate of about 37 percent. Corker's approval dropped from 52 percent in the spring to 45 percent now, putting his approval rate below Trump's but in the same range, given the poll's 4-percentage-point error margin.

"Essentially, Corker's negatives have increased markedly, but he has ended up only a bit behind Trump in terms of approval, and possibly on par with him," said Dr. Ken Blake, director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University. "Meanwhile, some undecideds have switched to disapproval of President Trump, but Trump's base is sticking with him and keeping his approval rate relatively high in the state overall."

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Job approval ratings for Corker and Trump were combined to get a sense of whom Tennessee voters would favor if the two were pitted against each other. Among state voters who express an opinion about both men, 35 percent approve of Trump and disapprove of Corker. A statistically similar 32 percent approve of Corker and disapprove of Trump. Twenty-one percent approve of both Corker and Trump, and 13 percent disapprove of both.

Other political leaders

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As for approval of other key political players, the poll also found that:

  • 56 percent approve of Gov. Bill Haslam, compared to 57 percent in the spring
  • 48 percent approve of the Tennessee Legislature, compared to 50 percent in the spring
  • 45 percent approve of Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, unchanged from the spring
  • 13 percent approve of the U.S. Congress, compared to 21 percent in the spring

Two-thirds at least somewhat aware Trump-Corker conflict

The poll also asked how much Tennessee voters had read or heard about the recent conflict between Corker and Trump. Overall:

  • 68 percent say they have read or heard "some" or "a lot" about the conflict
  • 31 percent say they have read or heard "only a little" or "nothing at all until now" about the conflict.
  • The rest say they don't know or refuse to respond.

Overall, among Tennessee voters who say they have read or heard "some" or "a lot" about the conflict:

  • 40 percent disapprove of Corker and approve of Trump
  • 34 percent approve of Corker and disapprove of Trump
  • 15 percent approve of both Corker and Trump
  • 12 percent disapprove of both.

Among Tennessee voters who said they had read or heard "only a little" or "nothing" about the conflict

  • 37 percent approve of both Corker and Trump
  • 27 percent approve of Corker and disapprove of Trump
  • 22 percent disapprove of Corker and approve of Trump
  • 15 percent disapprove of both Trump and Corker

The impact of party affiliation

Among self-identified Democrats (23 percent of the sample) a large, 71 percent majority of those who say they have read or heard "some" or "a lot" about the conflict approve of Corker and disapprove of Trump. Even among Democrats who say they have heard "only a little" or "nothing" about the conflict, a 53 percent majority disapprove of Trump and approve of Corker.

Among self-identified Republicans (35 percent or the sample), a 65 percent majority of those who say they have read or heard "some" or "a lot" about the conflict disapprove of Corker and approve of Trump. But among Republicans who say they have read or heard "only a little" or "nothing" about the conflict, a 56 percent majority approve of both Corker and Trump.

Finally, among the largest group of respondents, who identify as independents or something else (40 percent of the sample), a 40 percent plurality of those who say they have read or heard "some" or a "a lot" about the conflict disapprove of Corker and approve of Trump, followed by 36 percent who approve of Corker and disapprove of Trump.

The largest group of independents who say they have heard "only a little" or "nothing" about the conflict disapprove of both Corker and Trump (30 percent), followed by those who approve of Corker and disapprove of Trump (26 percent).

"It appears that Trump has generally weathered the conflict better than Corker among Tennesseans, with the exception of self-identified Democrats who strongly favor Corker," said Dr. Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll, "and perhaps some independents who appear to be disengaged from the story and either disapprove of both or approve of Corker and disapprove of Trump."

The scientifically valid poll of 600 registered Tennessee voters reached via randomly selected cell and landline phone was conducted Oct. 16-23 and has an error margin of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.

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@POTUS, @realdonaldtrump, Bob Corker, Donald Trump, Middle Tennessee State University, MTSU Poll, Murfreesboro news, NewsRadio WGNS, Senator Bob Corker
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