Democrat Phil Bredesen and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn are neck and neck in the critical contest for Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seat, a new poll shows.
The survey confirms what many national observers already knew: The battle for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R) will be one of the midterm cycle’s tightest given the importance it has in determining which party will control the Senate come 2019.
What does the poll show?
The NBC News/Marist poll found that 48 percent of likely Tennessee voters back Bredesen, The Volunteer State’s former governor. Meanwhile, 46 percent of likely voters support Blackburn. Five percent are undecided.
Among just registered voters, Bredesen commands a four-point lead over Blackburn, 48 percent to 44 percent. Still, Bredesen’s leads are within the poll’s margin of error, plus or minus 5.1 percentage points.
The poll also revealed who is supporting each candidate. To no surprise, Bredesen garnered near universal support from Democrats (97 percent) and African Americans (86 percent to Blackburn’s 8 percent). But the moderate Democrat is also leading his opponent among women, 55 percent to 40 percent, and independents, 49 percent to 45 percent.
Meanwhile, Blackburn captured a majority of support from Republicans, white people, and men. Bredesen garnered 9 percent of support from Republicans.
Bredesen also leads Blackburn in terms of favorability. The survey found that 61 percent of Tennessee likely voters view Bredesen favorably while just 46 percent view Blackburn favorably.
Still, it isn’t all bad for Tennessee Republicans. Even though Blackburn has her work cut out for her, the poll found that Republicans still enjoy a 12-point lead in congressional preference among likely voters.
A spokesperson for Blackburn’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
Following the survey, CNN moved Tennessee’s Senate race from “lean Republican” to “toss up.” Among the reasons for the reclassification include NBC’s poll and Bredesen’s widespread popularity.