Gov. Bill Lee Holds 35% Approval Rating Among Tennessee Residents

A new Emerson College Polling survey in Tennessee finds half of voters (50%) support Republican incumbent Senator Marsha Blackburn for re-election, while 26% support Democratic challenger and State Representative Gloria Johnson. A quarter (25%) support someone else or are undecided. 

Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, said: “Representative Johnson’s support is highest among Black Tennessee voters, at 56%, while 11% support Senator Blackburn among this group. Among white voters, 60% support Blackburn and 19% Johnson.” 

“Blackburn holds the support of all educational demographics except for postgraduates, who are split: 46% support Johnson and 45% Blackburn.”

Governor Bill Lee holds a 35% approval rating among Tennessee residents, while a quarter of residents (25%) disapprove of the job he is doing. Forty-one percent of residents are neutral.

At the national level 20% of Tennesseans approve of the job Joe Biden is doing as president of the United States, while 61% disapprove of the job he is doing. Eighteen percent are neutral. 

Former President Donald Trump leads President Joe Biden among Tennessee voters in a hypothetical 2024 presidential rematch, 55% to 22%. Fourteen percent support someone else and 9% are undecided. 

Both Trump and Biden supporters in Tennessee appear locked in on their respective candidates, with half (50%) of Trump voters saying there is nothing the former president could do or say in the coming months that would change their support; 49% of Biden supporters said the same. Twenty-eight percent of Trump supporters can think of something that could change their support, compared to 15% of Biden supporters.

When asked about the 2016 election, a majority of residents (56%) think Donald Trump won the election fair and square, while 19% think Trump stole the election. Thinking about the 2020 election, Tenneseans are more split, with 40% thinking Biden stole the election while 39% believe he won fair and square. 

Midwest Study: The Tennessee general election survey is part of a 22-state study on the Midwest region and surrounding states. Look out for the study results by the Middle West Review, that is researching perceptions of the Midwest region this Fall. 


The Emerson College Polling Tennessee poll was conducted October 1-4, 2023. The sample consisted of 410 registered voters, with a credibility interval, similar to a poll’s margin of error of +/- 4.8 percentage points. The overall sample consisted of 452 residents, with a credibility interval of +/- 4.6 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, party, race, and education based on the general population using a sample of n=452 participants and allowing the natural fallout to create the sample of n=410. Turnout modeling is based on US Census parameters, and Tennessee voter registration and voter turnout data by regions (TN SOS). Data was collected by contacting emails provided by Aristotle, along with an online panel of voters provided by Alchemer. 

It is important to remember that subsets based on demographics, such as gender, age, education, and race/ethnicity, carry with them higher credibility intervals, as the sample size is reduced. Survey results should be understood within the poll’s range of scores, and know with a confidence interval of 95% a poll will fall outside the range of scores 1 in 20 times.

This survey was conducted by Emerson College Polling, and questions included in this release are all sponsored by Emerson College. All questions asked in this survey with exact wording, along with full results and cross tabulations can be found here.