Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s job approval has dropped 14 points to 47 percent, with support from Democrats and independents sharply down for the Republican governor since last spring, according to the latest MTSU Poll.
Meanwhile, approval ratings for Republican U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have also declined by double-digits — Alexander’s at 43 percent (down 11 points, although he outpolls chief GOP primary rival Joe Carr); and Corker’s at 44 percent (down 14 points).
Approval of the Republican-controlled Tennessee General Assembly also edged downward, from 48 percent last spring to 44 percent now. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The drop in Haslam’s approval rating from 61 percent last spring occurred primarily among the state’s Democrats and political independents, according to Ken Blake, director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University.
“Among the governor’s fellow Republicans, approval came in at 68 percent, statistically the same as the 67 percent approval among Republicans last spring.” Blake said. “But approval among Democrats fell from 52 percent to 42 percent, and approval among independents dropped from 69 percent to 41 percent.”
The table below shows overall approval and approval broken down by party identification.
Blake noted that the drop in approval of the governor’s job performance played out differently among Democrats than it did among independents.
“Among Democrats, the drop in approval was due almost entirely to a rise in the percentage who disapprove,” Blake said. “Among independents, by contrast, the drop resulted from roughly equal rises in the percentages of those who disapprove and those who feel undecided.”
Blake said that further exploring the reasons behind these shifts would require a poll focused on interviewing Democrats and independents.
“But one possibility is that Democrats, having been briefly impressed with some of the governor’s moderate positions during the last legislative session, are asking what he has done for them lately. Meanwhile, some independents share that view, while other independents just haven’t been paying much attention to the governor recently.”
The governor’s latest approval numbers, collected prior to his Feb. 3 State of the State address, resemble those observed in the Spring 2011 and Fall 2011 MTSU Polls, shortly after he took office.
In Spring 2011, 43 percent of Tennesseans approved of Haslam’s performance, and 17 percent disapproved. In Fall 2011, it was 51 percent approval, 16 percent disapproval.
The governor’s highest approval rating to date, 68 percent, appeared in the Fall 2012 MTSU Poll, but that poll, taken in an election year, sampled registered, likely voters rather than Tennessee adults in general.