Tennessee Senate - Blackburn vs. Bredesen


Primary Election: August 2nd, 2018


Phil Bredesen

Phil Bredesen (D)

Bio | Campaign Site

Marsha Blackburn

Marsha Blackburn (R)

Bio | Campaign Site

Tennessee Snapshot

RCP Ranking: Toss Up

----------PAST KEY RACES----------

2016: President
Governor | Senate
President | SenateTN-4
2010Governor | TN-4 | TN-5 | TN-6 | TN-8
2008: President | Senate
2006: Governor | Senate
2004: President

Polling Data

Bredesen (D)
Blackburn (R)
Middle Tn. State Univ.Middle Tn. State Univ.3/22 - 3/29600 RV4.04535Bredesen +10
GravisGravis12/11 - 12/12563 RV4.14240Bredesen +2

Race Analysis

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.  Like Frist, Corker decided to hang up his spurs after two terms. 

Republicans have a crowded field, while Democrats scored a major recruitment victory by getting their best probable candidate: former governor Phil Bredesen. Bredesen narrowly won in 2002, but was re-elected in a landslide in 2006.  With that said, Bredesen is now 75 years old, and the state has moved away from the Democrats in the past decade. Given that the Democrats failed to win this seat in 2006, it seems like a stretch to believe that they can do so in today’s Tennessee, although the national environment will probably keep him in the game.