NASHVILLE — As President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence prepare to hold their Sunday rally in Chattanooga to boost Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn in her contest with Democrat Phil Bredesen, two new polls say the race is a dead heat.
While other polls released last week showed U.S. Rep. Blackburn leading Bredesen, a former governor, East Tennessee State University's Center for Applied Social Research survey of 610 likely voters found Blackburn and Bredesen tied with 44 percent ahead of Tuesday's election.
The Oct. 22-29 survey, conducted over landline and cell phone, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
And a second poll conducted online by Nashville-based Targoz Market Research of 480 likely voters, including 228 who said they'd already voted early, also found a tie with 49 percent each for Blackburn and Bredesen.
Targoz President Randy Ellison said in an email the margin of error in the poll was plus or minus 4.15 percent.
Moreover, Ellison stated, previous Targoz polling had "indicated the counties surrounding Hamilton could give Bredesen the win."
Targoz has conducted three surveys, including one in mid-October that found Blackburn leading Bredesen statewide by 2 percentage points.
Last week, five polls, including surveys by Fox News, CNN and NBC/Marist showed Blackburn with varying leads of 4 to 9 percentage points over Bredesen in their ferocious battle to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Chattanooga.
Still, her overall support hovered in the 49 percent to 51 percent range, and outside Republican and Democratic groups continue to spend furiously.
Hours before Trump's rally begins, Bredesen also will be in Chattanooga, where he will host a 1-2 p.m. interfaith prayer lunch with faith and community leaders at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center "to discuss the future of Tennessee and America," his campaign says.
"Recent events are a reminder that we must work together to find a civil and respectful tone in public discourse" Bredesen said in a statement. "This year's U.S. Senate race has been long and, at times, divisive. I can think of no better way to conclude than to gather with men and women of faith to reflect on the past and look to the future."
Meanwhile, Bredesen spokeswoman Alyssa Hansen called the findings from the two new surveys "exciting news that confirms what we've known all along — this is a race that will be neck-and-neck until the very end."
She said Bredesen's "message of working together to get things done continues to resonate with Democrats, independents, and Republicans throughout the state. As we see record turnout, we know the only poll that matters is on Election Day."
Blackburn's campaign had no immediate comment on the ETSU and Targoz surveys.
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