ETSU Poll: Tennesseans favor Republican candidates for upcoming election, split on voting by mail


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A poll conducted by officials at East Tennessee State University found that Tennesseans are likely to vote in favor of Republican candidates come November, but the issue of voting by mail has left many in the state divided.

The ‘ Tennessee Poll,’ which was conducted in late April by the Applied Social Research Lab at ETSU, found that 83% of the respondents said they would either definitely vote in the general election or were likely to.

According to the annual public opinion poll, 17% said they would either definitely not vote (9%), would not likely vote (6%) or were not yet sure (2%).

In 2016, 52.8% of eligible voters in the state cast a ballot.

National News

The poll found that a strong relationship existed between voters’ likelihood to vote and how closely they follow national news.

Photo: ETSU

Those that follow national news very closely are far more likely to vote, according to the poll.

Similarly, the poll found that the less attention voters paid to national news, the less likely they were to vote in November.

The poll found that 37% of Tennesseans use local papers and/or local television stations as their primary news source, with Fox News being the second-most common primary source at 31%.

Presidential Election

Of the 536 Tennesseans who expressed a likelihood in voting, 53% favored President Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election, while 36% favored Joe Biden.

The poll found that 94% of Republicans in Tennessee support the President Trump’s reelection, and 4% of identified Democrats say they would vote to reelect him.

Independents in Tennessee are scattered, with 37% favoring Trump, 27% favoring Biden, 14% saying they are uncertain and 22% who said they will vote for another candidate.

In 2016, Trump won all but three counties in Tennessee and clinched the state’s popular vote with 60.7% of the votes. The Tennessee Poll has found that history looks to repeat itself in the Volunteer State in 2020.

65% of East Tennessee voters say they would vote for Trump if elections were held back when the poll was conducted.

In Middle Tennessee, 49% of voters said they would vote for Trump, as opposed to Biden’s 39%.

In West Tennessee, 44% of voters said they would vote for Biden, while 42% said they would favor Trump.

Photo: ETSU

In regards to the retiring U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, 43% of voters said they were likely to vote in another Republican to replace him, while 26% prefer a Democratic candidate.

26% of Tennessee voters say the party affiliation of Alexander’s successor does not matter.

Voting by Mail

Across America, a recent Gallup Poll found that 64% of voters were in favor of allowing all voters to vote by mail or absentee ballot in 2020, with 34% opposed to it.

In Tennessee, adults are more likely to oppose the option to vote by mail, but it is a slim difference.

43% of adult Tennesseans favored requiring vote-by-mail, while 44% favored the option to vote-by-mail.

However, 44% oppose requiring vote-by-mail, and 48% oppose the option to do so if voters are able to vote in person.

Table 1. Support and opposition to voting by mail, by party and question wording

Favor requiring vote-by-mail (Group One)43%29%40%63%
Favor option to vote-by-mail  (Group Two)44%26%46%69%
Total in favor43%28%43%66%
Oppose requiring vote-by-mail (Group One)44%61%26%33%
Oppose vote-by-mail option for those able to vote in person (Group Two)48%67%43%26%
Total opposed46%64%35%30%

TN Poll #5 PR 2.                                                                                                                      Table By: ETSU ASRL

For more information on the poll or to read the full results, click here.

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