NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennesseans are polarized, politically — according to a new poll of voters in the volunteer state from Vanderbilt University.
But while the divide exists, both Democrats and Republicans do have something in common. They want lawmakers to work together.
People are feeling less united — specifically in how they view people of opposite political parties.
“But yet there’s still this strong desire among registered Tennesseans to for people to work together to kind of solve problems,” said Josh Clinton, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University.
Tennesseans are showing their dissatisfaction with Governor Bill Lee’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent COVID special session. His popularity dropped from 65% in May to 55%.
“It is true that it’s down and I think it’s probably down because of the special session — the special session put some laws in place that the public isn’t particularly wild about and so I think there’s been some blowback,” said John Greer, a Vanderbilt political science professor who also worked on the survey.
Details in the polling show democrats and republicans do want common ground.
“In general, there’s enthusiasm about the Tennessee state economy, kind of much more so than the national economy,” Clinton said.
67% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats see the economy as “good”.
60% of both parties support public redistricting hearings.
And 80% of Democrats and Republicans want high-quality public education for Tennessee.
“There’s widespread agreement right— doesn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or Republican or independent or whether you have kids at the public school or not there’s overwhelming support for more investment into public education,” Clinton said.
The political polarization is in a state that’s about 60% republican and 40% democratic according to recent statewide elections, with a republican legislative supermajority.
Voters want competition according to poll participants.
“This state will be better off if we had a competitive two-party system because it encourages greater accountability among politicians and right now it’s very lopsided,” Greer said.
Despite former President Donald Trump’s overwhelming popularity among Republicans in Tennessee, only 44% of voters polled want him to run for office in 2024.
The survey of 1,002 registered Tennessee voters was conducted between Nov. 16 and Dec. 6, with a margin of error of ± 3.7 percentage points.