President Donald Trump won Tennessee with a commanding 61 percent of the vote in November, but a month into his presidency a smaller majority of Tennesseans approved of him, according to a poll released Wednesday by Middle Tennessee State University.
MTSU found that 51 percent of those surveyed said they approved of how Trump "is handling his job," a drop from his electoral win that Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll, described as a "hangover" for voters.
The approval rating is lower than former President Barack Obama's at the beginning of his first term, when 53 percent of Tennesseans said they approved of his job performance — the highest approval rating ever for Obama in the Volunteer State, which voted against him in two elections.
"New presidents often enjoy a so-called honeymoon shortly after winning their first election, when unifying inaugural addresses and a public that hopes for the best contribute to even greater support and job approval than their winning vote totals,” Reineke said in a statement. But Trump's "job approval at the outset of his presidency is actually worse than his winning vote total in the state."
At the Tennessee Press Association's winter convention in Nashville, where the poll was released, Reineke told a room of journalists that national polls “went astray” in 2016, and said analysis by both the media and polling organizations painted an inaccurate picture of how the presidential election would shake out.
Polls often indicated the race was too close to call, though polling agencies and media organizations often equated single percentage point leads by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as a slim lead for the Democratic nominee, even if it was within the margin of error.
“Particularly in the swing states that extrapolation to the electoral college is where the numbers were off,” Reineke said.
Reineke said the media and polling agencies should work to explain what those kinds of tight results actually mean.
Mixed views on the gas tax
The poll also found mixed public opinion of Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to raise the gas tax to pay for road improvements. Thirty-eight percent of voters support it, while 28 percent didn't, and 33 percent said they weren't sure.
MTSU Poll director Ken Blake said the pattern mirrored the public's early response to Haslam's Insure Tennessee proposal to expand access to health insurance in the state.
"Many have read or heard little about the issue and simply have no opinion yet," Blake said in a statement. "Support for the plan rises markedly among those who have the most information about it.”
Of poll participants who said they had read or heard “a lot” or “some” about Haslam's plan, which would also lower the grocery tax, 51 percent were supportive. Only 24 percent who said they had heard a little or nothing about it were in favor.
Tennesseans continue to hold a generally favorable view of the governor, the poll found, with Haslam's approval rating holding steady at 57 percent. Half of those surveyed approved of the General Assembly's job performance.
The poll also found 51 percent of state voters want either a moderate or conservative Republican elected to replace Haslam in 2018. Only 23 percent of respondents said they wanted a Democratic candidate to win.Read More...
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