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Poll Shows Neck-And-Neck Senate Race In Tennessee

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A closely watched race in Tennessee that could play a key role in determining control of the Senate is neck-and-neck, according to the results of a new NBC News/Marist poll.

The poll found that 48 percent of likely Tennessee voters back former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen, while 46 percent support Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. The two-point gap is well within the poll's margin of error.

Bredesen has a slightly wider 48 percent to 44 percent lead over Blackburn among a larger pool of registered voters, although his advantage is still with the margin of error.

While Bredesen benefits from support among Democrats, African Americans, women, and independents, Blackburn leads among Republicans, men and whites.

Tennessee has not elected a Democratic Senator since former Vice President Al Gore won in 1990, but Bredesen is staying competitive because of his popularity in the state.

Sixty-one percent of likely Tennessee voters have a favorable opinion of Bredesen, while just 22 percent of likely voters have an unfavorable opinion of him.

Meanwhile, 46 percent of likely voters have a favorable opinion of Blackburn, 36 percent have an unfavorable opinion and 17 percent have either never heard of the congresswoman or are unsure how to rate her.

Bredesen and Blackburn are fighting to succeed retiring Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who has been critical of President Donald Trump and has offered praise for Bredesen.

"Trump carried Tennessee by 26 points in 2016, and the state looks red again in 2018 with one possible exception," said Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

He added, "Democrats got an unexpected gift with the retirement of Senator Corker and that race is a tossup right now."

Separate NBC/Marist polls released this week also showed competitive Senate races in Missouri and Indiana, while a recent Quinnipiac University poll showed a dead heat in the Senate race in Florida.

The NBC/Marist survey of 940 Tennessee adults, including 730 registered voters and 538 likely voters, was conducted August 25th through 28th.

The margin of error among registered voters is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, while the margin of error among likely voters is plus or minus 5.1 percentage points.

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