|Poll||Date||Sample||Clayton (D)||Corker (R)||Spread|
|Final Results||--||--||30.4||64.9||Corker +34.5|
|Middle Tn. State U.||10/16 - 10/21||609 LV||21||59||Corker +38|
The Volunteer State was long something of an anomaly in the South. The mountains in the eastern portion of the state had been a bastion of strong Republican support since the Civil War. The GOP therefore maintained a sizable presence in the state. Unlike in the rest of the South, Democratic presidential candidates rarely received more than 55 percent of the vote there, and in good Republican years like 1920 and 1928, they even lost.
So Tennessee was one of the first states in the South to align with the GOP and was the first to elect two Republican senators. It also occasionally elected Republican governors, even during the Jim Crow era: It did so in 1880, 1910, 1912 and 1920.
In 2006, Republican Sen. Bill Frist honored a pledge to serve only two terms, and retired. The Democrats had a dream candidate in Rep. Harold Ford Jr., scion of a Memphis political dynasty and possessed of a moderate voting record. But Ford stumbled down the stretch and lost to Republican Bob Corker. Simply put, if Corker can win in a bad Republican year like 2006, he can win in what is shaping up to be at least a decent Republican year in 2012, especially after the Democratic Party of Tennessee was largely obliterated by the GOP tsunami of 2010. Corker's opponent, insurance agent Mark Clayton, is not likely to make this a competitive race.