Republican Gov. Bill Haslam enjoys high, bipartisan approval among Tennessee’s active voters as he heads into the third year of his term, the latest Middle Tennessee State University Poll shows.
More than two in three voters (68 percent) say they approve of the way Haslam is handling his job as governor. Fourteen percent disapprove, and 16 percent don’t know. The rest give no answer.
Surprisingly, perhaps, in the context of a highly partisan national election, Haslam is nearly as popular among Democratic and independent voters as he is among voters from his own party.
“The poll found 75 percent approval among voters from the governor’s own party,” said Dr. Jason Reineke, associate director of the MTSU Poll. “But a statistically identical 76 percent of independents also approve, as do a solid 54 percent majority of Democrats. Especially considering the partisan climate regarding national politics, these are very good numbers for the governor.”
The results do show relatively less popularity for the governor among Tennessee’s African-American voters, only 47 percent of whom expressed approval of his job performance compared to 22 percent who expressed disapproval and 31 percent who said they weren’t sure. The governor’s numbers were statistically identical, though, across age, education, income and gender categories.
The governor’s high, bipartisan support echoes that of his Democratic predecessor, Gov. Phil Bredesen, noted Dr. Ken Blake, director of the MTSU Poll.
“Both men have tended to govern from the political center while steering clear of hot-button social issues,” Blake said. “In Tennessee, that approach seems to pay substantial political dividends.”
Haslam’s popularity has been high in previous MTSU Polls, although differences between the registered, likely voters examined in the current poll and the general population of Tennessee adults sampled in those previous polls make direct comparison difficult.
ABOUT THE POLL
Conducted by telephone Oct. 16-21, 2012, by Issues and Answers Network Inc., the pollcompleted 650 interviews with randomly selected registered voters in Tennessee. The poll has an error margin of plus or minus four percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.
In order to obtain a representative sample of respondents, data were collectedusing a mix of landline and cell phones. Additionally, quotas were placed on landline and cell phones to ensure a proper mix of the two groups. The sample contained only registered voters and was representative of the state population.
Interviews averaged 12 minutes in length. Weights were applied to the data to match the sample’s gender and race proportions to those seen in exit poll data from the 2008 election in Tennessee. However, a comparison of results with and without the weights showed little difference.
The poll defined “likely voters” as registered voters who had voted already or who had either voted in the 2010 governor’s race in Tennessee and/or described themselves as “very likely” to cast a vote in the upcoming presidential election. The results reported are for the 609 poll respondents who met thelikely voter criteria.