NASHVILLE — Republican Marsha Blackburn has opened up an 8-point lead over Democrat Phil Bredesen among likely voters in Tennessee's U.S. Senate race, according to a new online YouGov poll by CBS News released on Sunday.
The survey, conducted Oct. 2 through Oct. 5, shows U.S. Rep. Blackburn ahead of two-term former governor Bredesen by 50-42 percent. The poll, which surveyed 871 likely voters, has a margin of error or plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
Polling website FiveThirtyEight.com gives YouGov a B rating on its surveys.
The survey wrapped up on Friday, a day before the U.S. Senate voted 50-48 to confirm Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday to the Supreme Court.
Blackburn had early on stated her support and pilloried Bredesen for weeks on how he would vote if elected to the seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Chattanooga.
Bredesen announced Friday he would have voted for Kavanaugh's confirmation ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sending the nomination to the floor. His position upset some of Bredesen's liberal supporters in Tennessee. And two national Democratic super PACs declared they would not help Bredesen, who has campaigned as a pragmatic and independent moderate in the Nov. 6 election.
According to the CBS/YouGov poll, 47 percent of Tennesseans surveyed said they would vote to confirm Kavanaugh. Another 30 percent said they would vote against the judge, who was beset by sexual assault accusations from decades ago. Another 23 percent said it was too soon to say.
Fifty-five percent said the controversy made them more motivated to vote this year. Another 41 percent said it had no impact, while 4 percent said it would make them less motivated to vote.
Overall, 53 percent of poll respondents identified as Republicans, while 35 percent identified as Democrats. Nine percent identified themselves as independents, while 2 percent were not sure.
President Donald Trump's job performance won approval from 61 percent, while 39 percent disapproved.
On another question, 44 percent said their vote in the Senate contest would be in support of Trump, while 26 percent said it would be in opposition. Thirty percent said their vote wasn't about Trump.
As to what they want to see out of their next senator, 34 percent said they wanted someone who supports Trump as much as they can, while 25 percent said they wanted a conservative who is independent of Trump.
Another 25 percent wanted a progressive who would be independent of Trump while 16 percent wanted someone who opposes Trump as much as they can.
Asked which issue would be foremost in their minds when casting their ballot, only 9 percent said the election was about Trump. The majority, 51 percent, said it was about the direction of the country. For 13 percent, it was "sending a message" to Washington, D.C., while 12 percent cited economics and finances and another 11 percent pointed to "culture and way of life."
Blackburn was seen among those surveyed as being the candidate to do better in their view on immigration, crime, and gun policy.
The candidates were even on the issue of health care.
The poll is the second in the past week showing Blackburn, an arch conservative and staunch Trump supporter, moving ahead. Two previous polls had shown Bredesen ahead and another in August had Blackburn in first place.
Factoring in five recent polls, Real Clear Politics still characterizes the contest as a toss up, with Blackburn having a 2-point edge.
Early voting in Tennessee begins Oct. 17.
Contact Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.