Alexander below 50 percent favorable rating in two polls

Two polls released Wednesday show U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander with an approval rating below 50 percent, though one commissioned by his prospective Democratic opponent rated him somewhat lower than a Vanderbilt University survey.

The Vanderbilt poll of 860 registered voters found 49 percent approval of Alexander compared to 52 percent approval of U.S. Sen. Bob Corker and 61 percent approval of Gov. Bill Haslam.

A poll of 531 likely voters by Public Policy Poling (PPP), commissioned by Democrat Terry Adams’ campaign and including an “oversample” of Republicans, found Alexander with a 37 percent approval rating and an almost equal number, 36 percent, giving him an unfavorable rating.

Vanderbilt found Alexander with a 57 percent approval rating among Republicans; PPP at just 50 percent.
Alexander is up for reelection next year with state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, having announced as an opponent in the Republican primary and Adams, a Knoxville lawyer, as a contender for the Democratic nomination.

The PPP poll found Alexander leading Carr 46-40 percent among Republican voters and leading Adams 45 percent to 32 percent in a head-to-head matchup.

Vanderbilt did not do head-to-head questions in its poll, but did ask those surveyed if they knew who Carr was. Only 24 percent did and, of those, 54 percent approved of him. Adams was not mentioned in the Vanderbilt poll.

For comparison to other public figures in Tennessee, Vanderbilt also asked those surveyed whether they recognized UT football Coach Butch Jones (39 percent did, 76 percent of those approved) and Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin (29 percent did, 70 percent of those approved). Singer Carrie Underwood, on the other hand, was known by 85 percent of those surveyed with an 85 percent approval rate from those who knew her.

Note: The PPP polling memo, distributed by the Adams campaign, is below.

December 9th, 2013
From: Jim Williams, Public Policy Polling
To: Interested Parties
Re: Alexander Looking Weakened in Primary, General Matchups

A new poll from Public Policy Polling shows that Republican Senator Lamar Alexander is looking somewhat weakened in both general election and primary matchups.

Alexander’s overall favorability rating sits at just 37%, with 43% holding an unfavorable view of the Senator. Among Republican primary voters, Alexander gets just a 50% favorability rating, with 36% rating him unfavorably.

Alexander holds just a 6-point lead over Tea Party primary challenger Joe Carr, 46%-40%. Since 61% of Republican primary voters don’t know enough about Joe Carr yet to have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him, he has room to grow v. the incumbent if he can gain name recognition.

In a general election matchup, Alexander leads Adams 45%-32%. However, 65% of all voters say they’d be somewhat more likely or much more likely to vote for Adams after hearing more about his background and biography. In fact, after hearing that info voters choose Adams over Alexander 41%-37% when the head to head matchup is asked again.

Even 52% of Republican primary voters said they’d be somewhat more likely or much more likely to vote for Adams after hearing his bio.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 531 Tennessee voters from December 2-3, including an oversample of 391 Republican primary voters. The margin of error for the polls is +/- 4.3% for the overall sample and +/- 5.0% for the Republican primary sample.