Poll shows more than half of Tennessee voters are less confident in President Donald Trump

Poll shows more than half of Tennessee voters are less confident in President Donald Trump

May 30th, 2017 by Andy Sher in Breaking News

President Donald Trump speaks at the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Monday, May 29, 2017, during a Memorial Day ceremony. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — Tennessee voters appear to be "cooling" to Republican President Donald Trump with his overall job approval at 52 percent, according to a new Vanderbilt University poll, which also shows a majority — 54 percent — are less confident he will change things for the better.

The poll of 1,005 registered voters also shows support for Trump remains strong among Republicans at 86 percent and self-identified tea party members at 90 percent.

But Trump's positive standing among Democrats is just 10 percent and 49 percent among self-identified independents.

Trump handily won the state in the November presidential election with 61.1 percent of the vote over Democrat Hillary Clinton's 34.9 percent.

The Vanderbilt Poll was conducted May 4-14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent.

Those surveyed were also far less certain the billionaire and former reality TV star will change or is currently changing Washington for the better.

In November polling, 54 percent of Tennesseans thought Trump would change things for the better in Washington. Now, just 41 percent think so.

Dr. Josh Clinton, a co-director of Vanderbilt's Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, called it a "pretty sizable difference."

The number of those who think Trump is changing things for the worse rose from 20 percent to 31 percent. The percent of those who thought he would have little impact remained steady at 23 percent.

Other poll findings show:

» Fifty-two percent of voters surveyed said they approved of the job U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., is doing. Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, is up for reelection next year.

Corker has not said whether he will seek a third term but is widely expected to do so.

Nashville attorney and Iraq war veteran James Mackler has already announced he is running for the Senate seat.

Dr. John Geer, another Vanderbilt political scientist and poll co-director, downplayed any idea at this juncture that Corker could face tough going in 2018.

"I think the senator's probably in pretty good shape for reelection," said Geer, adding he thinks that Corker's 60 percent standing in Vanderbilt's November 2016 poll was "artificially high."

The latest poll shows Corker had support among 74 percent of Republicans surveyed, while 34 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of independents said they backed him.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., had 50 percent job approval.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam had 61 percent job approval, his lowest level in three years. The General Assembly's job approval stood at 53 percent.

» In the developing 2018 race for Tennessee governor, U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., is the best known among announced or likely Republicans and Democrats.

Forty-nine percent of voters said they recognized the name of the 6th Congressional District congressman from Gallatin, near Nashville, according to the Vanderbilt Poll.

No. 2 was Democrat Karl Dean, an announced candidate and the former mayor of Nashville, at 38 percent.

It was not immediately clear how much of their name recognition stems from their Middle Tennessee power bases and the Nashville media market. In fact, most of those who are better known live in or around Nashville.

State House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, for example, was third in terms of name recognition at 34 percent, while state Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, an announced candidate, was fourth with 28 percent.

Next was another announced candidate, Randy Boyd, a Republican businessman and the state's former commissioner of economic and community development. Boyd, of Knoxville, came in at 26 percent.

State Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, who is expected to announce this week whether or not he'll restart his gubernatorial efforts, had 21 percent name recognition.

State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, and Republican businessman Bill Lee of Franklin were tied at 14 percent. State House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley, who represents a rural West Tennessee district, was least known at 8 percent.

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.

This story was updated May 30 at 6:25 p.m. with revisions and at 11:55 p.m. with minor edits.