Bill Haslam (File photo)
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam enjoys high, bipartisan approval among active voters as he heads into the third year of his term, the latest Middle Tennessee State University Poll shows.
More than 2 in 3 voters say they approve of the way Haslam is handling his job as governor. Fourteen percent disapprove and 16 percent don’t know. The rest gave 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 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 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 Ken Blake, director of the MTSU Poll.
“Both men have tended to govern from the political center while steering clear ofhot-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.