A new poll released Monday by Middle Tennessee State University shows Tenn. Gov. Bill Haslam’s popularity has fallen substantially in the last year. The poll showed Haslam’s approval dropping from 61 percent in the Spring of 2013 to 47 percent.
MTSU pollsters suggest the drop was primarily due to a marked decrease in support from Democrats and Independents. Approval among Democrats fell from 52 percent to 42 percent while support from Independents dropped from 69 percent to 41 percent.
At the same time, Haslam’s approval among fellow Republicans was mostly unchanged.
MTSU Poll Director Ken Blake says a lot of factors may have played into the loss of support from Independents. For instance, the drop could be explained by a mass exodus of tea-party supporters, who identify as Independents, but now find the governor’s policies too moderate for their tastes.
Blake says the governor may have lost support among more moderate independents too, who are wondering what Haslam has done for them lately. “Other independents just haven’t been paying much attention to the governor recently,” Blake speculates, adding those questions could only be answered by another survey.
Blake also points out the 14-point drop may be partially explained by the survey respondents. The Spring 2013 poll was taken among registered voters, while the Spring 2014 poll included unregistered voters. “Registered voters might be more engaged and they may answer the questions differently,” Blake tells WUOT News. Even so, Blake says it’s enough of a drop to get the Haslam administration’s attention.
A Vanderbilt University survey of registered voters conducted in November 2013 also showed Haslam’s numbers falling, but the decrease wasn’t nearly as precipitous.
Attempts to get a response from the Haslam Administration were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, the MTSU poll showed Tennessee’s duo of Republicans in the US Senate is also seeing a decrease in popularity. Sen. Bob Corker’s approval rating fell 13 points in the last year, while Sen. Lamar Alexander saw an 11-point drop. The good news for Alexander is that the survey found him holding a comfortable lead in approval over his GOP primary challenger Rep. Joe Carr. However, Blake says 45 percent of respondents said they were still undecided about this August’s primary race.