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Election 2008: Tennessee Senate
Alexander Stretches Lead to 28 Points in Tennessee

For Republicans hoping to prevent the Democrats from picking up enough seats to have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Tennessee is a rare bit of good news.

Incumbent Senator Lamar Alexander’s already formidable lead over Democratic challenger Bob Tuke has now grown to 28 points, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state. The Republican is ahead 62% to 34%.

Three weeks ago, Alexander was ahead by 24 points, 56% to 32%, in the first survey since Tuke won his party’s Senate nomination in an August primary.

Despite help from Barack Obama and former Tennessee Senator Al Gore, Tuke’s biggest problem continues to be name recognition. Twenty-seven percent (27%) of Tennessee voters say they don’t know enough about the Nashville lawyer and longtime party activist to have an opinion about him.

Just four percent (4%) are unsure what they think of Alexander, who is seeking a second term in the Senate after an unsuccessful bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000. He also has served as U.S. secretary of Education, governor of Tennessee and president of the University of Tennessee.

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Seventy-two percent (72%) have a favorable opinion of Alexander while 25% view him unfavorably. Tuke is viewed favorably by 42% and unfavorably by 32%. These numbers are an improvement for both men from the last survey.

Alexander is supported by 92% of Republicans and one-quarter (25%) of Tennessee Democrats, a pickup of seven percent (7%) from three weeks ago. Tuke has the backing of 73% of Democrats and two percent (2%) of Republicans. The GOP incumbent has a 44-point lead among unaffiliated voters.

Alexander leads by 37 points among men and by 20 points among women.

Even with Obama at the top of the Democratic ticket, Alexander has the backing of 36% of African-American voters in the state.

Tennessee voters have not elected a Democrat to the Senate since Gore’s reelection in 1990.

Rasmussen Markets data currently gives Alexander a % chance of winning re-election in November. These results are updated on a 24/7 basis by market participants. It costs nothing to join, so add your voice to the collective wisdom.

Alexander’s numbers are a rare bit of good news for Republicans so far this campaign season. Republican Senate seats are at risk in Alaska, Colorado, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oregon, New Mexico, Mississippi, Virginia and Minnesota. Demographic crosstabs for all state polling are available for Premium Members. Learn More.

Democrats are hoping, with national polls trending in Obama’s direction, that they can achieve a 60-Democrat Senate on Election Day.

Sixty-four percent of Tennessee voters say the state’s Democratic governor, Phil Bredesen, is doing a good or excellent job. Just nine percent (9%) rate his performance as poor.

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Safe Republican

RR Poll

RR Poll




Alexander (R)




Tuke (D)




This telephone survey of 500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports October 16, 2008. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

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Favorable Ratings for Senate Candidates in Tennessee




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About Rasmussen Reports

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.

The Rasmussen Reports ElectionEdge™ Premium Service for Election 2008 offers the most comprehensive public opinion coverage ever provided for a Presidential election.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade.