Poll: Dem has double-digit lead in Tennessee Senate race

Poll: Dem has double-digit lead in Tennessee Senate race

Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) now has a 10-point lead over Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTaylor Swift defends staying out of the 2016 election: 'I just knew I wasn't going to help' The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal Senate passes sweeping budget deal, sending it to Trump MORE (R) in their race to replace the retiring Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R), according to a poll released Thursday. 

The Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) poll found that 45 percent of respondents would vote for Bredesen if the race were held today, compared to 35 percent for Blackburn, as first reported by The Tennessean. Another 17 percent said they remain unsure.

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The survey indicates Bredesen, a former Nashville mayor, is gathering a wide coalition of support, with a plurality of self-identified independents, 45 percent, saying they would vote for him, compared to 33 percent for Blackburn. He also gets more backing from across the aisle — 20 percent of Republicans say they would vote for him, compared to only 5 percent of Democrats who say the same about Blackburn.

"I think some of that good will or social capital that he built up as governor may be paying dividends for him now," said the director of the MTSU survey.

A liberal-leaning poll from last month had given Bredesen a 5-point advantage in the race for Tennessee's open seat.

Senate Democrats are on the defensive in the 2018 midterm elections with 26 seats to defend, compared to only 10 for Republicans. Flipping a state like Tennessee would go a long way toward the party's efforts to recapture the Senate, where they now have a 49-51 minority.

The MTSU survey, conducted via cellphones and landlines from March 22 to 29, has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.