Polls conducted by the Vanderbilt University Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions and published by the Tennessean this morning would seem to indicate it is. Romney leads with just 42% of 1,508 registered voters over Obama’s 39%. Interestingly, 10% say they would just stay home and not vote. Six percent were undecided. Santorum does little better with 42% to 38%. Again 10% would stay home. Ron Paul leads 40 to 39, but more on that later.
In 2008, McCain carried the state with 57.6% of the vote after some polls earlier in the year had indicated a much closer election. So, I have doubts as to Obama’s chances of stealing our 11 electoral votes from the Republicans, but the poll does seem to offer some encouraging news:
Republican Apathy - There apparently is a good deal of apathy on the Republican side. I have no previous polls to compare the 10% who will ‘stay home’, but I suspect it comes from largely Republican votes. I would hope this reveals a similar apathy factor nationwide.
Down ballot impact – Hopefully, again, a stronger Obama showing will restrict further Republican gains in local races. I don’t expect to reverse the recent trend, but hopefully we can stop it from getting worse.
Democratic energy – I believe Obama was elected through the participation and energy of a lot of people new to the political system; young people who are telling the adults to ‘get over it’ and elect a minority or woman. I hope this group does not drift to Ron Paul if he runs on a third party ticket. Many young former Obama supporters I know are leaning towards Paul as they are fed up with us adults screwing up their futures with a wrecked economy and multiple wars. We need to keep them in the Democratic camp and utilize that energy to change for change on local levels.
Force Republicans to spend money – I think a marginal amount of campaign money spent in Tennessee would require a disproportionate amount of spending by the Republicans to keep Tennessee as a firewall state.
Can Obama to carry Tennessee? Hopefully, but not likely.