Bill Lee - State of the State - 2019

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee delivers his first State of the State Address Monday, March 4, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A poll just released by Vanderbilt University shows Gov. Bill Lee is the most popular politician in the state.

Lee has a 61% approval rating, a number close to what Gov. Bill Haslam had during his time in office.

The poll of 1,000 demographically representative Tennessee voters was conducted May 9-23 via landline and cell phones and covered a variety of state and national issues. The margin of error is 3.8%.

Researchers said there’s a difference between Lee and Haslam.

The poll showed Lee drew less support from Democrats and independents and more support from his own party.

Republicans were found to support Lee more than Haslam.

“Lee’s support draws less from Democrats and independents and more from Republicans,” said poll director John Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt, in a news release. “This is significant and underscores what could be increasing polarization in the state.”

“Nationwide we see a lot of division among Democrats and Republicans. There’s a lot of political polarization going on in the country right now,” said poll director Josh Clinton, a political science professor at Vanderbilt. “What we see is that historically that’s not really percolated down into Tennessee, but in this poll we’re beginning to see that maybe the national dialogue is starting to affect how Tennesseans are viewing the issues confronting themselves.”

The approval ratings for Sen. Lamar Alexander stands at 46% while Sen. Marsha Blackburn is at 45%. President Donald Trump’s approval rating is 54%

Support for Alexander is essentially bipartisan, according to the poll, while support for Blackburn is concentrated almost entirely among Republicans.

“We’re seeing the beginnings of a potential fracture in terms of what direction the state wants to go,” Clinton said in a news release.

The poll’s respondents said they feel optimistic about the state legislature, giving it a 52% approval rating, compared to just a 26% approval rating for Congress.

The poll results showed 63% of voters across all party lines said House Speaker Glen Casada should resign following the revelation of sexually explicit text messages he exchanged with his chief of staff.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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