WASHINGTON (WSMV) - A new NBC News/Marist poll is showing Republican Marsha Blackburn just narrowly edging ahead of Democrat Phil Bredesen in a tightly-contested Senate race being watched across the country.
The poll finds that while Bredesen has a higher favorability with likely voters, Blackburn has the support of 51 percent of likely voters, compared to the 46 percent support for Bredesen. The findings narrow even further with registered voters, with Blackburn having 49 percent to Bredesen's 46 percent.
NBC News finds both Blackburn and Bredesen have taken a hit with popularity since the campaign began, with more than $50 million spent on attack ads. Blackburn's standings, however, have improved since the last NBC News/Marist poll in early September when Bredesen led 48 percent to Blackburn's 46 percent.
The shift in Blackburn's favor in the red state of Tennessee is not unusual. President Donald Trump, a strong vocal supporter of Blackburn, won by 26 points in 2016. Blackburn leads with Trump supporters by a whopping 88 percent, white evangelicals by 72 percent, non-college graduates by 56 percent, white voters by 59 percent, and men by 57 percent.
African Americans (85 percent), independents (59 percent), college graduates (53 percent), and women (52 percent) are largely favoring Bredesen.
The poll finds that Blackburn, despite the narrow lead, has seen her popularity drop since the last poll among Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Bredesen has also seen a slight drop in popularity, but the poll finds he remains significantly more popular than his GOP opponent, 52 percent favorable compared to Blackburn's 45 percent favorable.
Bredesen also broke his party's majority by announcing his support for the Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh back in October. The poll finds that voters in Tennessee are favoring candidates who supported the nomination of Kavanaugh, about four in ten voters say they are likely to back a candidate who supported his confirmation.
While the Senate race is very close, the gubernatorial race shows Republican Bill Lee leading Democrat Karl Dean by 57 percent to 40 percent with the margin widening between the two.