Oct 14 2010
10:24 am

The fall MTSU Poll is out with some interesting findings as usual. Highlights in the press release after the jump...

Haslam leads McWherter in governor’s race as November looks grim for Dems

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Tennesseans generally want U.S. Muslims to have the same rights as other Americans, and while most state residents oppose building an Islamic facility near "Ground Zero" in New York, most wouldn’t mind construction of such facilities in Murfreesboro or even closer to home, the latest MTSU Poll shows.

Sixty-six percent of Tennesseans say U.S. Muslims deserve the same rights as other Americans. About the same proportion say they either support or would not oppose construction of an Islamic facility in Murfreesboro or near where they live.

"Recent news coverage has tended to portray Tennessee as intensely hostile toward Muslim Americans," said Dr. Jason Reineke, associate director of the MTSU Poll. "Our findings suggest, though, that such attitudes are not typical of state residents – or at least not typically expressed by them, even when participating anonymously in a survey."

Most Tennesseans also reject the idea that Muslims in the U.S. should have to register their whereabouts with the government, and most consider it wrong to profile people as potential terrorists because they are Muslim, the poll shows.

Sixty-three percent of Tennesseans do, however, oppose construction of the Park51 Community Center, the Islamic facility proposed for construction in Lower Manhatten near the World Trade Center site. The proportion is similar to the 67 percent of New York state likely voters who said in a September poll that the center should be built elsewhere.

Other findings show Republican Bill Haslam running well ahead of Democrat Mike McWherter in Tennessee’s gubernatorial race. Haslam draws 42 percent support to McWherter’s 19 percent among all Tennessee adults, with 34 percent undecided. Among Tennesseans who say they both voted in the 2008 presidential election and are eligible to vote in the upcoming election, Haslam attracts 50 percent, and McWherter, 21 percent, with 24 percent undecided.

"Supporters of Haslam’s chief rivals in the Republican primary, Ron Ramsey and Zach Wamp, have generally lined up behind Haslam," said Dr. Ken Blake, director of the MTSU Poll. "The tea party vote seems to be favoring Haslam as well, but tea party admirers make up only about 30 percent of the state’s population, and tea party members are an even smaller 7 percent."

Conducted by Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communication, the telephone poll of 614 Tennessee adults chosen at random from across the state has an error margin of plus or minus four percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. Full results are available on the poll’s website, (link...).

The poll also found continued erosion of President Barack Obama’s popularity in the state. Fifty-five percent disapprove, and only 35 percent approve, of the job Obama is doing. Approval is down and disapproval is up compared to previous MTSU Polls. Significantly for Obama, a majority of independents disapprove, with concern about the national economy as the deciding factor.

The poll did not estimate the standing of specific candidates in the state’s various Congressional races, but Tennesseans are more likely to say that the country would be better off with Republicans controlling Congress (34 percent) than with Democrats controlling Congress (20 percent). A sizable 36 percent, though, think that conditions will be the same regardless of which party ends up controlling Congress. The same attitudes show up when Tennesseans are asked about which party they’d like to see controlling the state Legislature.

Tennesseans say, too, that Congressional Republicans and Obama are both to blame for gridlock on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, 37 percent continue to believe that Obama was born in another country, and 34 percent think he is a Muslim. The White House and officials in Hawaii, where Obama’s birth certificate is on file, have repeatedly attempted to dispel the rumor that Obama was born outside the United States. And Obama as well as others in his administration have said that he is a Christian.

Financial worries continue to dog Tennesseans, with majorities concerned about the national economy (80 percent), the state economy (84 percent), and their own family finances (62 percent). Seventy-three percent say the recession has hurt them. And of those, about half say the recession has hurt them “a great deal.”

In still other poll findings:

• A 48-percent plurality of Tennesseans disapprove of the federal health reform law passed in March and want to see the law repealed.

• A 60-percent majority of Tennesseans consider protecting the right of Americans to own guns more important than controlling gun ownership.

• Half of Tennesseans think going to war in Afghanistan was the right decision, but only 41 percent consider going to war in Iraq the right decision.

For over a decade, the Survey Group at MTSU has been providing independent, non-partisan and unbiased public opinion data regarding major social, political, and ethical issues affecting Tennessee. The poll began in 1998 as a measure of public opinion in the 39 counties comprising Middle Tennessee and began measuring public opinion statewide in 2001. Learn more and view the full report at (link...).

Rachel's picture

Veddy interesting. Thanks

Veddy interesting. Thanks for posting, Randy.

Quite a bit of encouraging stuff mixed in with the discouraging (37% think Obama wasn't born in the U.S. ?????).

fischbobber's picture

I find the governors race

I find the governors race most interesting. Throw out the right wing whackos and McWherter (uh oh. Am I misspelling a name here?) leads. Not by much, but the Tea party has proven to be Haslam's. On January 1, 2010 if you would have told me I would be voting for someone other than Bill Haslam I would have laughed in your face. I have never seen a politician work this hard to run off moderates in favor of a fringe element in my life. It appears to be a working strategy in the short term.

It will be interesting to see what happens when Haslam tries to take health care away from citizens in four years after the health care bill kicks in. All those jobs he's promising best be paying twenty to thirty dollar an hour or no one will be able to afford to keep him around.

R. Neal's picture

Not by much, but the Tea

Not by much, but the Tea party has proven to be Haslam's

Saw a guy in south Blount Co. tonight pull into a convenience store in his red pickup truck and get out wearing a ballcap and camouflage. His red pickup was sporting a McWherter sticker.

Won't change the apparently foregone outcome, but thought it was interesting.

fischbobber's picture

My guess would be that he

My guess would be that he works for a living and is reflective while sitting in his deer stand.

Despite the fact that I never actually shot anything, I really enjoyed the deer hunting phase of my life. I should probably clean my gun, just in case. If I can only remember where I hid the key to the trigger lock.......

Rachel's picture

It will be interesting to see

It will be interesting to see what happens when Haslam tries to take health care away from citizens in four years after the health care bill kicks in.

Not gonna happen.

fischbobber's picture

Not gonna happen. The bill

Not gonna happen.

The bill kicking in or Haslam sticking to his promise to repeal it?

Rachel's picture

Haslam repealing it. He

Haslam repealing it. He knows the state can't repeal a Federal law and he's not about to get himself into that particular briar patch.

I'll bet you a beer.

fischbobber's picture

I'll take you up on that bet,

I'll take you up on that bet, but only because I think swapping a beer or two may well be worthwhile...............

despite the fact that I have been somewhat disappointed in your recent pandering.

Rachel's picture

I'd be happy to have a beer

I'd be happy to have a beer with you anytime.

Who have I been pandering to recently? I'm really not much of the pandering type.

fischbobber's picture

Who have I been pandering to

Who have I been pandering to recently? I'm really not much of the pandering type.

I didn't have you pegged as a panderer either, but frankly you seem to be a schoolgirl in love with the Haslam phenomenon of late. That being said, it could be your enthusiasm for the South Knox Waterfront project that would project your personality in such a manner. Or you may be such a positive person that your overall bubbly optimistic viewpoint on life supersedes the obvious mediocrity of the choice facing voters this fall. It's hard to say.

Rachel's picture

A school girl in love with

A school girl in love with Haslam? Really? When I've repeatedly said I'm not even sure who I'll vote for?

Ok, then.

bizgrrl's picture

A 48-percent plurality of

A 48-percent plurality of Tennesseans disapprove of the federal health reform law passed in March and want to see the law repealed.

I found this sad.

GDrinnen2's picture

Why didn't

Why didn't tell me you had a schoolgirl crush on Haslam!

Rachel's picture

Well, if you take out the

Well, if you take out the school girl and the crush part, then yeah.

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