MTSU Poll: Haslam approved by 64%, Obama by 37%; Legislature 49%, Congress 15%

News release from Middle Tennessee State University:
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — In general, Tennesseans rate their state government leaders better than those in the federal government, according to the latest statewide MTSU Poll.

“It is a very interesting time to be a political observer in the state of Tennessee,” said Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University. “State and national issues are currently overlapping in fascinating ways.”

The poll randomly surveyed 600 adult residents statewide Jan. 25-27 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Haslam riding high
Gov. Bill Haslam’s approval rating has rebounded noticeably to 64 percent compared to a year ago (47 percent in the spring 2014 poll), with only 18 percent of Tennesseans disapproving and the remaining 19 percent saying they don’t know or refuse to answer the question.

Across demographics and political affiliation, pluralities or majorities approve of the job the governor is doing.

Legislature holding its own
Meanwhile, a 49 percent plurality of Tennesseans approve of the job the Tennessee General Assembly is doing, while only 25 percent disapprove and 26 percent say that they don’t know or refuse to answer.

Approval has a partisan tilt, however, with 67 percent of self-identified Republicans saying they approve and only 9 percent disapproving. That compares to a 42-percent plurality of Democrats disapproving while 35 percent approve.

Among independents, 49 percent approve, 29 percent disapprove.

Still no fans of Obama
Turning to the federal government, only 37 percent of Tennesseans approve of President Barack Obama’s performance, while 52 percent disapprove and the rest say they don’t know or refuse to answer.

These figures are comparable to Obama’s approval numbers in the state since spring of 2011, Reineke noted.

Predictably, Tennessee Democrats tend to strongly approve of Obama (80 percent) and Republicans tend to disapprove even more strongly (87 percent). Independents also tend to disapprove (57 percent).

Congress even worse overall
The U.S. Congress, however, fares worse with a 70 percent disapproval. Only 15 percent of Tennesseans approve of how Congress is handling its job and the rest don’t know or refuse to answer. Furthermore, majorities disapprove across demographic and political differences.

Tennesseans approve of their own U.S. senators markedly more than of Congress as a whole, though.

• Alexander: A 47 percent plurality approve of the job Lamar Alexander is doing, while 32 percent disapprove and 21 percent say they don’t know or refuse to answer.

• Corker: A similar 44 percent plurality approve of the job Bob Corker is doing while 27 percent disapprove and 29 percent say they don’t know or refuse to answer.

Find previous MTSU Poll results at

Interviews for the poll were conducted by Issues & Answers Network Inc., which completed 600 telephone surveys among a random sample of Tennessee residents aged 18 and over.

Data was collected using Tennessee statewide RDD sample with a mix of 80 percent landline and 20 percent cell phones. The average interview length was 13 minutes.

Quotas by gender and geographic region were implemented to ensure the sampled respondents were representative of Tennessee’s adult population. U.S. Census Bureau data were used to determine the gender distribution each of Tennessee’s Grand Divisions: East, Middle, and West.

The survey’s margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points, meaning that we are 95 percent confident that the actual result lies within 4 percentage points (in either direction) of the result our sample produced.